Twitter hasn’t peaked–Risks of blindly reading data

It seems that the “Twitter in the news” cycle is set to a two week rotation. Maybe the law of conservation of twitter news …

Regardless, Twitter was in the news recently that Twitter has peaked because its Comscore traffic data dipped in October. Oh how the pundits, jumped on that. Well the pundits who didn’t really read the data. CNET shows that at least someone is reading the data with a critical eye:

It seems that these figures, blessedly inconsistent as they are, are not taking account of all the third-party and mobile methods of keeping everyone up with your eating, drinking, reading, philosophizing and socializing.
But is it also possible that some people will simply never participate in the Twitter phenomenon, finding it either annoying, uncool, or even too much effort?
With Twitter intent on becoming more businesslike (why does the word ‘more’ seem slightly redundant here?), 2010 seems destined to be the year that the microblogging service becomes either de rigueur or dazed and confused.
Will Twitter become a permanent habit or a disappearing, perhaps even elitist, fad? I’ll tweet Nostradamus and ask him.

[From Has Twitter peaked? | Technically Incorrect – CNET News]

See, Comscore measures website traffic. TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Siesmic, none of those hit the website for traffic. So, in fact, I would read the dip to be good news for Twitter. Sure, people aren’t going to the website, but they are becoming more sophisticated and using tools that help them manage their Twitter streams.

The point is that you just can’t read data blindly. This was something that was beat into me going through college and grad school. As a scientist we learn to never to take data at face value. You have to understand all the parameters around it. When I heard that Twitter dipped in October I was interested, then when I read that the data source was Comscore then I knew that the data could be interpreted in at least a few ways.

No, I’m not saying that there are people who have it out for Twitter. Saying that “Twitter dips in October,” makes for a great headline. I would add “…But is that the real picture,” just because that would indicate that there might be something more going on.

And there is.

Twitter isn’t the be all and end all. I’m not going to be Twitter cheerleader. I think microblogging-micromessaging has changed how we’re sharing information, and for the better.

So next time we get some Twitter traffic data, let’s take a good look at the data first.   

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