Rendered Fat Content


Unknown Artist:
Daikon Radish and Accounting Book (19th century)

“Data-Driven crazy …”

Come Friday morning, I'm TottingUp the week's receipts, just as if I ran a small business. I count the customers and imagine significances like bean counters have always done. I avoid the formal metrics, Google Analytics® and the like, because something about how I initially organized my web presence rendered it impossible to formally evaluate. I count contacts instead: likes, comments, and views assigning a nominal value of one (1) to each. For instance, a post like this week's Discernment attracted forty-nine views, no comments, and a single like on Facebook. It also showed twelve accesses via a LinkedIn link and twenty-one via my newer Substack path, for a total of eighty-four somethings. I have no idea what that number means other than it represents something equally indeterminant and rewarding. It's my payoff!

Since each of my stories seems separate and unique, they aren't comparable.
Someone stumbling into a story counts the same in my accounting as someone who reads the damned thing, but there's no way to determine what happened other than someone viewing it. I assume that if someone 'liked' it, they'd read it or at least given it the old college try. I remain grateful that there's no 'hate' button, though it might help produce larger numbers. Larger numbers simply must be better. Right?

I Tott Up all eight of my week's submissions, including my weekly writing summary, then count the other postings that fall into my PureSchmaltz Private FaceBook Group to positively inflate the total before reveling at my imagined reach. This week, my accounting shows a thousand impressions seeing, liking, and/or commenting on my writing. That's my audience, my applause. I average about seven hundred such touches per week, a hundred a day, give or take, and I find these numbers curiously reassuring. I understand that they amount to cowboy calculus, bullshit powered with windage, but they still produce a palpable swell of pride in my chest. Like any small business owner, even us imaginary ones, we love to think we're creating satisfied customers, no matter how suspect the accounting principles seem.

We live in an age of data, much of which carries almost as much significance as my TottingUp numbers do. We construe certain principles we religiously adhere to, thereby creating a religion within which we worship our accomplishments. Otherwise, we'd be flying blind. Regardless of whether we're blinding ourselves with our so-called principles, we feel more principled when the data drives our decisions. We receive confirmation of what we'd hoped to find whenever we sharpen our blue pencils and start counting.

I worry a little when a week shows slackening demand. I feel confused on a week where my numbers show only five hundred touches instead of the usual seven. I privately wonder if the result amounts to a critique, if, perhaps, I've lost my touch and need to pander better to my audience. Of course, I have no freaking clue what any reader expects when they access my stories, and it would be instant death should I conclude that I somehow knew. I don't usually even know what I expect of myself when I sit down to write.

In Junior High, a career planning exercise concluded that I would grow up to become a cost accountant, replete with a flat-top haircut, a short-sleeved white dress shirt, and a skinny tie. Other than the haircut, shirt, and tie, I realize I have fulfilled that prophesy. I invented my technique and can see no meaningful interest in accounting for my web presence, as Google suggests, with Analytics®, even if it could produce meaningful numbers for me. I thrive on my acknowledged meaningless ones, to which only I impart their significance. I appreciate everyone who passes through my stories and regret how anonymous the process seems. I perform to a largely invisible audience. Forgive me, please, if I represent your continuing interest with meaningless numbers. I'm just being Data-Driven crazy, I suspect. I do sincerely appreciate your interest. Thanks!

Here's a link to my
weekly writing summary.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver