Introduction

A few years ago, a new word started to show up on my personal reading lists: analytics. It threw me for a while because I couldn’t quite figure out what it really meant.

In some contexts, it seemed to mean the sort of numeric analysis that for years my compatriots and I had referred to as stats or quants. Ours is a living language and neologisms are often welcome. McJob. Tebowing. Yadda yadda yadda.

Welcome or not, analytics has elbowed its way into our jargon. It does seem to connote quantitative analysis, including both descriptive and inferential statistics, with the implication that what is being analyzed is likely to be web traffic: hits, conversions, bounce rates, click paths, and so on. (That implication seems due to Google’s ...

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