Data hype? Internet data shops kingmakers, rainmakers

Internet data houses impact blogosphere.

In my “New York Times beats Digg, or Hitwise beats Alexa?” story I refer to my prior story, "Digg v.3, Who needs the New York Times?” to note that the debate is larger than Digg vs. The New York Times:

My story questioned the validity of relying on an Alexa-based chart to conclude that a 15 person Social Web start-up, which itself does not gather, or report on, any news, is on track to displace the 1200 person New York Times worldwide newsroom with its $200 million news gathering budget.

While it would seem that no statistics are necessary to conclude that The New York Times is in no near-term danger of being displaced by Digg as the world’s “newspaper of record,” in profiling Digg v. 3, Michael Arrington, of TechCrunch, referenced Alexa statistics in stating Digg is: “looking more and more like the newspaper of the web, and is challenging even the New York Times on page views."


In both stories I include lengthy information on the data gathering methodology of the two data services. While the methodology put forth publicly by Hitwise appears to suggest that Hitwise data may be more reliable than Alexa data, once again, the debate is larger than Hitwise vs. Alexa.

The debate should be about the need to judge the reliability, validity and limitations of data presented by any data shop. The Hitwise data has its own share of qualifications, as data presented by any, and all, data services has qualifications.

The enthusiastic TechCrunch team, however, now apparently favors Hitwise over Alexa: “Hitwise is establishing itself as one of the most authoritative voices.”

While the Hitwise slogan is “We Love Data,” the firm also seems to love making headlining stories out of data:

  • July 11, 2006: MySpace Moves Into #1 Position for all Internet Sites
  • July 06, 2006: Digg versus New York Times Reality Check
  • June 21, 2006: PhotoBucket Leads Photo Sharing Sites; Flickr at #6

The Hitwise e-mail blasts are eagerly awaited by the blogosphere, as is data put forth by ComScore, OneStat…"Headlining” data stories are easy, popular, and “ring true.”

As blog stories based on data shop headlines, however, may "anoint" the companies headlined, data shops can become Internet “kingmakers.”

Also, by writing stories based on data shop headlines, the blogosphere can become part of data shop viral “rainmaking.”

ALSO SEE: Social Web or Business Web: where is the money? 

Web 2.0 Social Web: who is in control?

UPDATE: Yahoo issued a statement regarding Hitwise's July 11 e-mail blast that claimed "MySpace moves into #1 position": "The Yahoo network is made up of many domains and it is not accurate to compare to just Yahoo's (e-mail site)."