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Poking Insights: watching all that youtube may not be killing us

We start this month’s Poking Insights with a short discussion about one of the key challenges when analyzing a Twitter feed – why did these people tweet? Numbers are all very well but what are the tweeters’ motivations, how do we put their comments into context, how does their tweet fit with their other social media activity? It’s answers to these deeper questions that produce actionable recommendations.

But numbers are interesting, especially the mind-blowing stats that were released on youtube’s 6th birthday last month. In that short time it has experienced what is really phenomenal growth, becoming one of the most searched for terms on Google and fast becoming an alternative search engine for some queries.

It claims that over 48 hours of video content are uploaded every minute. How much??? That’s 8 solid years of back to back video every 24 hours. And it attracts 3 billion views every day. There are only 6 billion people on the planet and most of them don’t (yet) have internet access! In the last year, uploads have doubled and view are up 50%. That, unlike geekdom’s annoying use of the word, is truly awesome.

But growth like this means that the stats go out of date quickly and if you’re moving in these fast growing sectors you need data that is about now, not a few months ago. Do a search on the net and you’ll come across lots of links quoting last year’s stats even on sites where they quote this year’s as well.

What impact is all that online viewing having? According to an article on mashable sitting down may be killing us. That report had a sensationalist and misleading infographic that probably helped it to their most shared article in May. After some jumbled numbers it draws the conclusion that “it’s clear sitting is killing us”. It’s based on some original research concluding that of those who spend most of the day sitting, 54% are more likely to suffer a heart attack (independent of smoking and exercise). As is so often the case this quite frankly worrying correlation has been twisted to suggest that is the cause. As I bang on about, correlation is not causation.

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One Comment

  1. On correlation is not causation – yes! Annoying report on the news this morning about some research showing older people on some strong medication were more likely to go on to suffer memory problems than those on weaker medication – and the report was blaming the medication. I reckon it’s also likely that if you’re sick enough to be taking the strong medication in the first place, you’re more likely to be predisposed to getting other illnesses e.g. brain illnesses, and it’s not necessarily the medication causing it!

    Posted 24th June 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink