Misleading with a graph to support a narrative

Rob Beschizza on the Terrible Graph Wired Uses as ‘Evidence’ That the Web Is Dying
[Via Daring Fireball]

Rob Beschizza:

Without commenting on the article’s argument, I nonetheless found this graph immediately suspect, because it doesn’t account for the increase in internet traffic over the same period. The use of proportion of the total as the vertical axis instead of the actual total is a interesting editorial choice.

So, so stupid. It’s hard to describe just how stupid this is. The only question is whether Wired’s editors are so stupid they actually believe what they’ve written.

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It makes little sense to use changing percentages when the overall usage is also increasing. The Boing Boing article has a figure looking at total Internet usage:


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The Web is not dying. More people use it today than ever. They are also using it for a lot of other things. And things that have much larger file sizes than a Web page.

This data just looks at terabytes of data transmitted. But one video can be Mbytes in size, enough for a thousand large pages. So the total number of pages accessed is probably much larger than the number of videos.

This is like the guys who say that Apple’s market share is decreasing. Yes, its share of an increasing market is decreasing but its sales and revenues are going up a lot.

Graphics to drive a misleading narrative/