Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here’s What the New York Times’ Nate Silver Traffic Boom Looks Like

You thought we were done talking about Nate Silver today? Think again!

Here, for instance, is an excellent piece by the New Republic’s Marc Tracy, which details the huge spike in traffic the New York Times has seen to Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog.

“A lot of the traffic is coming just for Nate,” executive editor Jill Abramson tells Tracy. Quite an astonishing thing for the paper of record to say about any of its writers, let alone a freelancer.

But Silver is not, as some folks on the Web have announced today, generating 20 percent of the Times’ Web traffic.

Instead, as the Times PR staff told Tracy, 20 percent of visitors to the Times’ Web site are including a trip to Silver’s blog as part of their journey. Small distinction but an important one.

A chart prepared by the Times, based on its internal server numbers, helps put things in perspective: The Times has seen a traffic spike in the runup to the election, and visits to the paper’s “politics” section are naturally ramping up as well. And Silver’s blog, which is a subset of the politics section, are up, too.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work