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I love data.  Data rocks and solves a lot of problems.  It removes (mostly) foundationless opinion, emotion, and spin from arguments.  And that’s why Tuesday’s keynote about measuring the participatory web has been the best thing of the conference so far.  It was chock full of fantastic data from Bill Tancer at Hitwise  and Dave Sifry from Technorati.

Some highlights (with my comments):

  • In the last year, visits to participatory web properties (like YouTube, MySpace, etc) went from 2% to 12% of all web visits.
  • Visits to Wikipedia outnumber visits to the leading “normal” online encyclopedia Encarta 3400 to 1.
  • Participatory photo sites (like flickr, photobucket) make up 56% of all photo site traffic; photobucket makes up 40% (but I assume that’s before MySpace cut them off)
  • Obviously, not all visits to participatory websites are actually participating, but the numbers are smaller than and varies more than you would think.
    • YouTube: 0.16% of visits upload a video (much lower than I would have guessed).
    • Flickr: 0.2% of visits upload an image.
    • Wikipedia: 4.59% of visits are edits (much higher than I would have guessed).
    • What is the percentage of commenters on YouTube?  Much higher, I would think, but still…
  • Editors at Wikipedia skew disproportionately with age, and propensity to edit grows strictly with age. I.e., 55+ year olds are much more likely to edit than 18-24 year olds.
  • YouTube is slightly different: middle age users have the highest tendency to post (35-54 year olds).
  • Editing/posting also skews toward males: Wikipedia 60%, YouTube 76%. Visits are split very close to 50/50 on gender lines.

Now here’s the most interesting part of the presentation. Some company (Claritas, as it turns out) has separate the people on the web into a bunch of different demographic categories.  Hitwise has tracked people in these categories and there are three that are predictors of the next big thing; i.e., the big properties of the new web (like YouTube) were visited by these three groups before they made it big.   The groups are called:

  • Money and Brains
  • Young Digerati
  • Bohemian Mix

And who are they visiting now; who are the “next big thing”s?  In order:

  • Yelp
  • StumbleUpon (just bought by eBay and targeted by Google)
  • Veoh
  • WeeWorld (disproportionately “Money and Brains” because they tend to have kids)
  • Imeem
  • Piczo

Fascinating stuff.

Dave Sifry of Technorati also showed some interesting stats on the state of blogs out there.  Most of the stuff was in this blog post.

The most interesting thing is that Japanese is now the most popular language for new blog posts, accounting for 37% of blog posts that Technorati tracks.  That is amazing in my English-centric world view, especially when you consider the number of people in the world who speak English vs. the number of people who speak Japanese.

He also gave hope to us “long tail” bloggers who get no traffic. 88% of the top 100 blogs as tracked by Technorati are different than they were last year, so the top blogs are changing all the time.  Just keep at it…