In a recent Wired magazine article, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff argued that the Web is dead, but the Internet is alive and well. To support their argument, they pointed to the growing popularity of self-contained “apps” as opposed to the more free-form web browser. Although these apps still access the internet, they do so in a more focused way. And, these authors argue that the rise of the apps is having a dramatic impact on our overall internet usage, supporting their point with the following graph.
Based on this graph, one would definitely get the impression that web traffic has decreased significantly over the last few years. However, Rob Beschizza points out (“Is the Web Really Dead?“) that since the graph focuses on the relative proportions of various kinds of traffic, it really doesn’t say anything about whether web browsing is on the decline. It only indicates that its “market share” is declining. If you like at actually usage, you get a very different graph.
To me, this was an excellent example of looking closely at the data to see what it’s really telling you. Graphs, pictures, statistics, and other kinds of data are great, but only when they’re interpreted carefully. I also thought the first graph was very interesting once I realized what it was saying. I knew internet video was growing rapidly, but I hadn’t realized what a large slice of the pie it had become.