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You can make these SXSWi panels happen!

SXSW PanelPicker

It's SXSW PanelPicker season again. There are just hours left to vote for your favourite proposals for next year's South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin - and Alex has three dandy proposals for your consideration.

We hope you'll consider clicking your support for one, two or (make Alex's day!) all three:

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Just because you have numbers doesn't mean you have insight

One of the most seductive things about social media is the way it allows us to quantify things. I have more friends than she does – I must be more popular. That blog post got more hits than this one, so that one's more effective. We have more Twitter followers this month than last month, so we're on the right track.

Numbers are lovely that way. In a world where everything seems open to interpretation, numbers offer certainty. Five is bigger than three: end of argument.

Cold turkey

Cold turkey

(woman to friend walking down the street, seeing everyone with click counts hovering over their heads) Maybe you should lay off the analytics for a while.

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Conversation: the ultimate analytic

Can't get an answer from Google Analytics? Ask your users.

I had something of a happy mystery yesterday: a huge surge in traffic on one of my Noise to Signal cartoons with no apparent reason why.

That's the kind of mystery I dearly love to solve. Not just because I'm nosey, but also because I'd like to thank whoever's responsible. So I donned my deerstalker, broke out the virtual magnifying glass and started an investigation.

I solved that mystery... but discovered something a lot more important in the process.

Here's how I proceeded:

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Metrics: handy tool, or Satan's yardstick?

Can individuals use marketing tools without sacrificing authenticity?

Tangled measuring tape

Alex's Harvard post about metrics and the obsessive condition she calls analytophilia has triggered a lot of conversation this morning about the role analytics ought to play in organizational communications.

Which has me thinking about the role tools like analytics play in our personal communications online, too - for better and for worse.

The past few years have seen some fascinating changes as organizations - some tentative, some confident, a few very bold - adopt the tools of the social web. We've seen windows and occasionally great big doors opening in the walls that separate businesses, non-profits and governments from the public.

But something else is happening too. Just as the tools of social media are turning marketing into personal conversation, they're also turning personal conversation into marketing.

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A little ambiguity gets Google off the hook over Taiwan

You may well deal with user interface issues all the time - but have you ever handled one that had geopolitical implications?

Consider Google Analytics, the free web analysis tool that gives you an in-depth look at the people coming to your site and what they're doing there.

Social Signal on...

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.