Statistics For Fun And Profit

I love statistics.

The part of me that wishes I was a rock star is very unhappy about me admitting that in public, but there it is. Of course, the cool kids are calling it analytics these days, but it’s still statistics. It’s a bunch of numbers that can tell you interesting things about the world, or lie to you rampantly.

Perhaps that’s the difference between statistics and analytics. Statistics are those things lazy journalists and sensationalist bloggers use to get attention (43% of statistics are made up on the spot!). Analytics are useful information about how many people searched for the phrase “Britney Spears mango chutney fiesta” in 2006.

Freakanalytics?

I’ve just been reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, which is basically all about statistics and the fun things they can (maybe) tell you if you look at them in the right way. Apparently this is also known as economics. Who knew? Nonetheless, it’s a really fun book, and it demonstrates why I find statistics so interesting.

Because it’s not about the statistics themselves, but the story they can tell. To paraphrase Donald Norman of The Design of Everyday Things fame, they help to “make the invisible, visible”. That’s why we wrote seafelt, now called seafelt Performance Manager. We couldn’t figure out what was actually going on with our clients’ networks, servers, storage or backups, so we used seafelt to make the invisible visible. Then we could solve our clients’ problems.

And solving problems makes a much better story than talking about statistics.

seafelt Performance Manager

I’ve been working hard on the next version of seafelt Performance Manager. It’s still a while away from release, but if you’re interested in hearing more about what it will do for you, drop by the seafelt.com website, or sign up to the mailing list. It’s going to be really cool!

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