As Long As We’re All Telling the Same Lie

This morning I listened to an a16z podcast about the growth of podcasts; the discussion eventually led to the topic of podcast analytics and the hosts and guests landed on an interesting notion: the metrics are not perfect, but it’s irrelevant as long as we are all telling the same lie.

The “metric” referenced is podcast downloads, “we” are the people tasked with measuring the success of an initiative, and the “lie” is that downloads are not a reliable proxy for success. The idea encapsulates how an industry grows and how concepts become standardized.

It reminds me of how success was measured by “hits” in the early days of the web and the progress the industry has made since; we now have more data than we know what to do with. As the internet has evolved, so have the technologies to track and measure interactions, which has made it increasingly difficult to keep up the lie. Put in a more positive light: it has become increasingly easier to tell the truth. Technology is keeping us honest it turns out.