There is something about data that recommends itself. The more data you have the more you ostensibly know about the subject; the more you know the better basis you have for your decisions; the better foundation for your decisions the higher the odds your decisions are the right ones. Everyone likes to make the right decisions. Few things are as truly satisfying.
That said, most data are crap. If they’re not inaccurate then they draw your focus to teh wrong thing. Instead of basing your decisions on what it is you’re actually doing, you’re basing them on a reading of the effects they had the last time you did them.
The above is exemplified in web statistics. Say, for example, that you start blogging. You’re shouting into the void on a regular basis, and then BAM! someone links to one of your pieces, and you watch your stats shoot up. The tempting thing to do is write a similar piece on the same topic. AND YOU WOULD BE WRONG.
What worked the first time? Writing something you wanted to write for the sake of writing it. The second time, your ulterior, utilitarian motives will work against you.
I was spurred to write this by this tweet, with which I completely agree. On the one hand, blogging is a conversation. On the other, it is shouting into the void. There are no guarantees that anyone will click your way, or read what you’ve written once they get there. And if that’s your focus, well, maybe you’ll get the links, but you’ll have sold out. I’m not condemning selling out, it has its time and place, but there is a reason people sneer when they say “he sold out”.
I’m putting my money where my mouth is: goodbye Google Analytics. Goodbye data. If you need me, email works best.