The Dwell On It blog provides lots of great statistical information about Second Life and what residents are doing. Today Tateru has an article about whether or not there are more users in Winter than in Summer, which is the intuitive idea most Americans, I think, have about SL residents. I certainly thought so. Here is Tateru’s chart of the data. I’ve added my coloring and year numbers.
I’ve added the light blue line and the red stuff. The blue vertical bars are the usage numbers. The red shows the LACK of users in the winters of 2006, 2007, and 2008. They pretty much shoot down the idea that Summer has fewer users.
From 2006 to 2009 one could say the opposite of the saying is true, there are less people in Second Life in the Winter than in the Summer. The last 2 Winters have had slightly more people in SL. Is a trend forming? In practical terms, Tateru is right, the data provides no evidence of less Summer and more Winter users.
While we may think there are fewer or more people online depends on seasons the last 5 seasons in SL don’t support the idea, as intuitive as it might seem. My point in a previous article is that we get an idea and form a bias and from that point on only remember things that support it.
We also tend to look at simplified information or simplify it in our minds and only consider parts of the scenario. One can find other web stats via Google. However, many of the free Internet Stats services have disappeared. Much of that information is now sold as valuable marketing data. Mozilla has a blog on metrics: Blog of Metrics. There is interesting information there.
Trying to find if there is seasonal shift in Internet use patterns I found that the largest apparent influence on Internet use is holidays.
Student use of the Internet has been considered assuming it was easier for students to use the Internet at school than home. But, there is no significant data that supports that idea, at least that I found. With almost 2 billion Internet users now, I suspect students are too small a percentage to have a significant effect.
Looking through mine and clients’ Google Analytics data I find that season use may depend more on the type of site than the season. A snow ski lodge and island resorts are likely to show a seasonal affect. Medical sites not so much but flu seasons and the intensity of a year’s flu have a pronounced effect.
Also, web sites in America, at least those I have access to, show a drop in use in late 2008 and a sharper drop in January 2009. That suggests a political and/or economic effect.
In an edition of PLoS ONE [5(10)], four researchers from Taiwan found:
Our findings indicate that Internet searches for depression from people in higher latitudes are more vulnerable to seasonal change, whereas this phenomenon is obscured in tropical areas. This phenomenon exists universally across countries, regardless of language. This study provides novel, Internet-based evidence for the epidemiology of seasonal depression.
It appears there is more than just weather is affecting people’s use of the Internet and Second Life.