Misunderstanding the mechanics

It’s easy to misunderstand the mechanics of the internet. Easy to apply an out-of-date understanding of how things work. Easy to think that the internet works in the same way as

Sometimes, when we talk about ‘vanity metrics’, we aren’t really being vane in what we measure, measuring things that make us look like we’re successful but don’t achieve an outcome, we’re just applying old thinking to new mechanics. We’re just misunderstanding what mechanics drive what behaviour and so what is the right thing to measure.

The long tail, for example, describes a power law distribution which explains how a few things are really popular and lots of things less popular. It’s an important model for understanding how some things behave on the internet.

Network effects is another model for understanding behaviour on the internet. It tells us how the more people using a product the more useful that product becomes.

In the pre-internet world, these models didn’t apply. But now they do. Which means we need to update our understanding.