Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong

Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, Oct 15, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There's a reason I still have an email newsletter and why I spend so much time and attention on email and the website and the rest, and not so much on my Twitter and Facebook channels. It's because these are my promary delivery channels. If, for example, I want a lot of people to see my photos, I put them in the email newsletter. And where Twitter, Facebook and Google+ combined would produce 167 views (this is an actual number), putting it into the newsletter creates 830 views (that's another actual number). Alexis Madrigal writes, "this vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs. I call it Dark Social. It shows up variously in programs as 'direct' or 'typed/bookmarked' traffic, which implies to many site owners that you actually have a bookmark or typed in www.theatlantic.com into your browser. But that's not actually what's happening a lot of the time. Most of the time, someone Gchatted someone a link, or it came in on a big email distribution list, or your dad sent it to you."

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