#014: rethinking analytics • Nihiloxica

Welcome to the fourteenth edition of Ephemerata, a weekly-ish digest of links, ideas, learnings, and sounds that I think are worth sharing.

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I’m doing this to stimulate discussion around what I find interesting, and also to share things before they disappear into the void of my journal.

thoughts on nature while traveling with a friend

[Animals spend all day meditating.]

[Leaves don’t fight with the wind.]

[All life teaches.]


Rethinking analytics

A while ago, after years of being “analytics-free”, I decided to try Plausible Analytics and I want to share what led me to start thinking differently.

The original provocation was learning that Photopea, despite financial success as a one-person operation, earns most of its revenue from advertising and only four percent of its revenue from subscriptions or memberships. Considering that I am trying to finance my own sustainability directly via the people using the app, I thought it curious that this income equalled a sort of ‘minimum wage’ despite being a well-known, high-traffic project. I don’t intend or know how to make something as complex and deep as a Photoshop clone, and so I wondered if I would have fewer opportunities than this—perhaps I need to be open to selling ads at some point in the future, if that’s what it takes to keep content freely accessible on the web. (On the other hand, I believe it’s better to avoid comparing yourself to others and complexity is not synonymous with income, but I’m not sure how to think about all this at the moment).

Another reason is that I had a hard time turning garbage numbers like ‘requests’ (which include bots and counts multiple files for each pageload) into something that gives me an idea of ‘how many people are actually looking at this?’. I believe in talking to the people who use what you make, but I think many (or most?) people don’t have time to write in their impressions, and so this will always be smaller by a magnitude you cannot know; there is value in passive feedback and I think most people would prefer this if it’s done with purpose.

So far it feels good. I aggregate visitors to various projects into a single picture. It’s nice to have more meaningful numbers and to find out about interesting places that link to you, like this Brazilian guy’s tech blog. One of my 100 steps to success, still in-progress, is to track your growth over time, and this is another way to do that.

I hesitated all these years because Google Analytics has become a form of surveillance capitalism, and this taints most other approaches to analytics (or at least our perceptions of it). How can this be remedied? Does it help to use open-source technology? Or if the company hosting the technology aligns with your values? Collecting data generally requires trust because one cannot verify beyond the ‘privacy policy’—what about being transparent and just showing what one collects?

Similar to Buttondown, which I use to send mailing lists, I dig the spirit behind the project and its team and would like to lend my support. All this feels holistic so far, but I’m open to having my mind changed again. What do you think?


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Bombs vs. Bugs

Edward Snowden answers questions comparing the two:

[Banning code exploits itself can hurt efforts to counter DRM for autonomy.]

[Software exploits can be more dangerous than bombs because they are more likely to be used.]

[When exploits are used, we don’t find out immediately; sometimes only years later, whereas bombs will be reported on the evening news.]

[Like viruses, exploits can be spread: using it is a risk of losing it.]


MUSIC

All the following items can be accessed as a one-click playlist via Joybox without accounts or sign up—just open and play.

Playlist

Nihiloxica’s Kaloli (2020) is a shiny little gem mixing traditional Ugandan drumming with elements of electronic music and techno. Supuki’s dark beats and groove drumming, combines the electronic with an earthy sound—intense; Tewali Sukali’s body-shaking rhythms are accompanied by grungy noise; Gunjula has fast-driving multi-layered polyrhythms; Busoga’s the lead synths are dripping light all over the percussion; Kaloli surprised me with its thrashing metal. (via @ritualdust@merveilles.town)


Going through a reflective moment in the last few weeks, I found myself listening back to one of my favourite modern jazz albums: Chris Potter’s live-recorded Follow The Red Line (2007). After dozens of listens, I continue to be inspired by the improvisational capacity of these musicians. It’s inspiring, comforting, centering.


Astral Flowers’ Força da Cura from New Paradigm (2018) is a salutation to healing forces, introduced by the sound of breath, life, and spirit. (via Ronald)


More music in the previous edition.


(I heart music)

I always love receiving music. Send me recommendations anytime, anywhere!


That’s all folks!

Feel free to reply and share any reflections you might have, or just say hello. Have a great week :slight_smile:

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The membership system is hidden inside the app and completely un-optimized.

I’ve bought a team membership in the past for a year and didn’t get a notification email to renew.

I keep considering buying a service provider license but the lack of easy checkout flow is one of the thing that stops me.

So…I’m guessing that not getting a lot of membership revenue demotivates from working on it more.

Regardless — it was really great to read your thought process on stats / tracking.

I checked it out for the first time now and, wow, it’s like a matrix of options and buttons. Plus you need to ‘log in’ first. I think simplifying it would improve the outcome. I guess this is a good case against comparing oneself.

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