I’ve just returned from the Oral History Society conference in Manchester Metropolitan University. I gave half a talk (the first half was given by Clíona O’Carroll, my supervisor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnology at UCC). We were looking at the idea of audience, and knowing your audience. Cliona talked of the main audience and community of the Cork Folklore Project, the “real life” people who interact with the project and contribute to the oral history archive. I gave some preliminary results from website and social media analytics tools. My notes and slides are available as a pdf on www.academia.edu (Getting to know your digital audience). This talk had some crossover with the poster that I presented at DH 2014 in Lausanne (and blogged about here as Local, Digital, Global).
One of the things I wanted to get across was that these stats are not an adequate measure of value or impact in terms of the real community of users associated with a project like the Cork Folklore Project. In order to obtain a more comprehensive picture I will begin qualitative interviews in August 2014. I am also looking forward to doing some user studies, and I am also inviting people to take part in some surveys.
Audience questions after the OHS talk raised another issue: what about when hit counts include automated hits on your website? The visitor numbers were deal with are modest, so this issue is not one that we have had to deal with to date. Continuing promotion of the CFP sites could however, have the effect of attracting bots. It’s another argument to indicate that simple stats such as hit counts cannot be a real measure of impact.