Apologies for the light posting, which will continue for a bit. Combination of head-down-in-book-work and family commitments. Got a long post from the D conference brewing, but haven’t been able to pull it together yet.
In the meantime, interesting piece in today’s Journal about the failure (so far) of much-touted Washington Post “hyperlocal” experiment, LoudounExtra.com. The guy in charge, Rob Curley, admits he spent too much time talking up the project with news executives and not enough actually getting to know the people the site was supposed to be serving. (Points, at least, for honesty.) A classic community-building mistake that I’m sure he won’t make again.
But what caught my eye was this bit tucked in a background graph about Curley:
Perhaps his biggest success was the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World’s KUSports.com, a site dedicated to University of Kansas sports that grew during Mr. Curley’s three-year reign from 500,000 monthly page views to a one-time peak of about 13 million monthly page views.
Page views, though superior to the old “hit” metric, were never an ideal measure of real value in online publishing (I wrote about this in Salon in 1999). In the era of Ajax-style web applications, where the browser might stay on one page while you work on email or something else for a half hour, page-views are meaningless. Once upon a time, sites broke up long articles into pages to squeeze out a few more ad impressions; today, pages are less and less the unit of web content, which now comes at us in widgets and RSS and a hundred other generated-and-remixed formats.
It was so quaint to see a big page-view number touted as the sign of a site’s success in 2008 — like a dotcom bubble flashback…
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