The Wishful Thinking on ByeSpace

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Yes, journalists get a perverse sense of pleasure writing about flavor-of-the-month-now-being-passe stories. Case in point, the two stories which came out this weekend about MySpace being passe, or more accurately, as Valleywag brilliantly put it in its headline: “20-Year-Old Cancels MySpace Account, Site Folds”.
The first, a WaPo story, has scant evidence of MySpace’s decline, if any, and bases it on some quotes from some users. The second one, from WSJ, is even worse: it says that MySpace and Facebook lost visitors in September, based on NetRatings data, and in the next paragraph, the NetRatings analyst explains that seasonal back-to-school declines happen, just like last year. But then, why would the writer let a rational quote get in the way of the story she wanted to write anyway…oh well, don’t expect much…and you won’t be disappointed.

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I really wish someone would give journalists a crash course that describes the inherent "volatility" present in data recorded by Nielsen NetRatings and comScore and the like. These services should be regarded as the equivalent of a yardstick at best and as such should hardly be considered sufficient evidence of a very modest decline in popularity or seasonal trend.

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