Four short links: 21 August 2019

Competition vs Convenience, Super-Contributors and Power Users, Forecasting Time-Series, and Appreciating Non-Scalability

By Nat Torkington
August 21, 2019
Four Short Links
  1. Less than Half of Google Searches Now Result in a Click (Sparktoro) — We can see a consistent pattern: organic shrinks while zero-click searches and paid CTR rise. But the devil’s in the details and, in this case, mostly the mobile details, where Google’s gotten more aggressive with how ads and instant answer-type features appear. Everyone has to beware of the self-serving “hey, we’re doing people a favour by taking (some action that results in greater market domination for us)” because there’s a time when the fact that you have meaningful competition is better for the user than a marginal increase in value add from keeping them in your property longer. (via Slashdot)
  2. Super-Contributors and Power Laws (MySociety) — Overall, two-thirds of users made only one report—but the reports made by this large set of users only makes up 20% of the total number of reports. This means that different questions can lead you to very different conclusions about the service. If you’re interested in the people who are using FixMyStreet, that two-thirds is where most of the action is. If you’re interested in the outcomes of the service, this is mostly due to a much smaller group of people. This dynamic applies pretty much everywhere and is worth understanding.
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  4. Facebook Propheta procedure for forecasting time series data based on an additive model where non-linear trends are fit with yearly, weekly, and daily seasonality, plus holiday effects. It works best with time series that have strong seasonal effects and several seasons of historical data. Prophet is robust to missing data and shifts in the trend, and typically handles outliers well. Written in Python and R.
  5. On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scalesto scale well is to develop the quality called scalability, that is, the ability to expand—and expand, and expand—without rethinking basic elements. […] [B]y its design, scalability allows us to see only uniform blocks, ready for further expansion. This essay recalls attention to the wild diversity of life on earth through the argument that it is time for a theory of nonscalability. (via Robin Sloan)
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