When Obama Appeared On Stage, Web Traffic Dropped - InformationWeek

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11/21/2008
01:01 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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When Obama Appeared On Stage, Web Traffic Dropped

I don't remember when the Obama family strode on stage Election Night, but a review of traffic at the Clickabilty site shows a sudden drop just before 9 p.m. The drop deepens until about 9:26 and then, just as precipitously, traffic resumes at its previous level. It's a snapshot of how the Web can be trumped by traditional media.

I don't remember when the Obama family strode on stage Election Night, but a review of traffic at the Clickabilty site shows a sudden drop just before 9 p.m. The drop deepens until about 9:26 and then, just as precipitously, traffic resumes at its previous level. It's a snapshot of how the Web can be trumped by traditional media.Jeff Freund, CTO of Clickability, recorded this drop in a chart of traffic to his Web site Nov. 4. He posted the chart in his blog at http://www.localpeaks.com/.

Since his Web site acts as the online content server to the Web sites of nine NBC stations, several major newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, he expected to see high traffic counts on Election Day Nov. 4. And he did.

But he didn't expect traffic to be momentarily suspended the way it was, as a historic event unfolded on TV at Grant Park in Chicago. The Obama family, each parent with a daughter in tow, strode onto the stage to acknowledge to a huge crowd that Obama was the President-elect.

"People stopped clicking and just listened," wrote Freund in his blog Nov. 10. "As soon as the speech was over, the traffic once again bumped up to where it was before. A historic moment for the country, and a fascinating moment in the evolving social dynamics around media and the Web."

In other words, when TV is capturing a historic moment live, its video, sound, and commentary is capable of overwhelming the copious resources offered on the Web. YouTube is good for the replay, not the historic moment. As precedents, where TV triumphed, I think of the stately procession of the JFK funeral caisson, or the George W. Bush speech after Sept. 11, 2001.

Freund, by the way, was quoted in the Nov. 19 InformationWeek story "Sun Gives MySQL A Query Analyzer" about the query optimizer added to MySQL. He cites the story and offers a fuller description of his use of Query Analyzer in a blog adjacent to the Obama traffic comments.

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