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Stronger than dirt

3485364Cresting the peak of Mt. Madison, part of New Hampshire's Presidential Range, I discovered a timeless truth: climbing one mountain reveals  the next one. This truth applies equally to web development: mastering one technology reveals the next to be learned.

Ajax is the next mountain in web development. Remember the internet before Flash? Quicktime? Ajax promises another leap forward, delivering a more dynamic web experience. When that promise is fulfilled, what we see today will seem as clunky as your first 300 baud modem.

Just as vegetation becoming shorter and sparse indicates your ascent is nearing treeline, there are indications the days of Ajax are coming closer. Nielsen/NetRatings plans to publish a whole new metric starting with its June report: "Total time spent." This shift is tacit recognition of Page View's fading relevance in the new world of Ajax.

When Ajax loads a page, it's more like downloading an application than loading a page.  As an example, Daylife's highlights page loads once using Ajax. Since flipping pages doesn't cause another page load, traditional metrics would read this as a single page view. GoogleMaps is another example. Once loaded, you can click and drag around the map without need of a page load.

Enhanced visitor experience makes Ajax an obvious next step in your continuing journey of developing a persuasive web presence. It's also another example of a timeless truth: every summit reveals another.

Another timeless truth learned in my radio career seems oddly prescient to the web.

Creating a radio audience is a dance between nearly opposing poles: average and cumulative (cume) listening; what sets the beat is time spent listening. Cume is a measure of total listeners. Average calculates listening at any given time.

The promotions and events needed to build cume works against the steady familiarity required to hold an average audience. Trying to do both is like taking two girls to the same dance; not impossible, but an enterprise of great risk requiring even greater skill.

As the web transitions from page views to total time spent, radio's parallels are obvious. Or, is this another example of legacy media think invading new media?

There are common attributes to radio and the web. The most obvious is people and how they use it. Radio provides a product that is plentiful, free and without obligation to its user--just like the web (mostly). If people are the constant and use is the variable, using proven measurement techniques makes sense.

Time will tell. In the meantime, I'm going to lace my boots firmly and carry an extra set of dry socks. (Climbers will understand why.)


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