Web Analtytics Increases Uncertainty As Much As It Does Confidence

With so much data available with web analytics tools, one would think that businesses would become more confident in their understanding of themselves and their customers. But more data leads to just as much uncertainty which is described with a perfect analogy in this New York Times article.

Here’s the analogy:

“The larger the island of knowledge grows, the longer the shoreline — where knowledge meets ignorance — extends. The more we know, the more we can ask. Questions don’t give way to answers so much as the two proliferate together. Answers breed questions. Curiosity isn’t merely a static disposition but rather a passion of the mind that is ceaselessly earned and nurtured.

Mapping the coast of the island of knowledge, to continue the metaphor, requires a grasp of the psychology of ambiguity. The ever-expanding shoreline, where questions are born of answers, is terrain characterized by vague and conflicting information. The resulting state of uncertainty, psychologists have shown, intensifies our emotions: not only exhilaration and surprise, but also confusion and frustration.”

Exhilaration and surprise on one side, confusion and frustration on the other – as any web analyst would attest – sums up web analytics perfectly.

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