‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’

– George Orwell, Animal Farm1

As we transitioned from the mass media to the social media era, we brought some old evaluation techniques with us. Success in the early version of the web was measured by how much ‘traffic’ you could get. It was all about volume. And it didn’t take long before we could claim millions of ‘hits’ to our sites. It also didn’t take long to realize that that metric was pretty flimsy. So we tried coming up with something more authentic – like counting the number of unique visitors. But even measuring unique visitors has become grossly myopic.

Not every visitor is created equal. They are indeed unique. That was the lesson from ‘The Chewbacca Incident’.2 Michael Heilemann wrote an amazing blog post dispelling many of the myths surrounding Star Wars and titled it ‘George Lucas Stole Chewbacca. But It’s Okay.’ Star Wars’ fans streamed in from all corners of the web as the article was picked up and shared as hot social currency by all the major geek blogs in the geek narrative. While the article is a fantastic illumination of the creative process involved in developing a mythology as rich as that of Star Wars, Heilemann’s follow up study of the visitors to his article, ‘The Chewbacca Incident’, provides us with the true illumination for identifying quality relationships instead of quantity of relationships.

Heilemann discovered that readers that came from different ...

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