The Internet Is a Weird Place/Internet Traffic Case Study

Back in January, I had the pre-Innauguration concert from DC on in the background while I was working on something. Being a live sound geek, I was thinking about the system design challenges they had with such a long, narrow space, and then I happened to catch a sound "wave" propagating through the crowds. Since I had it on my DVR, I edited it into a little video, uploaded it to Vimeo and embedded it on my blog here.  It was fun, and I thought maybe a few hundred people would see it and I could use the video in my sound class. I posted links to my page on a few email lists, and in a relatively short period about about 4,000 people came to see it! The only way I can relate to a number like that is by applying it to live performance venues, and 4,000 people is roughly the seating capacity of the Metropolitan Opera.  And so, about a sold out Met's worth of people had come to my page and seen my little video, and I thought that was amazing. After a big peak, traffic still trickled into that page, but I figured the video had its 15 minutes of internet fame and was dying out, but I still was of course very happy with the response. 

Right after I posted it, I sent a link to Charlie Todd, and he liked the video but was out of town and said he would post it on his blog Urban Prankster when he got back. I pretty much forgot about it, and then about 10 days ago I saw referrals coming into my site from his, and looked and found the posting. I got about 30 referrals from the Urban Prankster site (all numbers here as of 1pm on March 22, 2009), but he embedded the video directly on his site (boy am I glad I put my name and website on the titles for that video!), and his site has now referred over 9,000 people to the video itself.  Again, I thought this was great, but little did I know that this was just the beginning. 

One of Mr. Todd's readers posted the video on Reddit, and another posted it on Digg.  Fortunately for me, they linked directly to my page (rather than the video), and that all led to a Norwegian site that gave me hundreds of referrals, and also Stumbleupon. All that caused a traffic explosion unprecedented for my site totalling today about 9,500 unique views of my blog entry containing the video (from Google Analytics, I'm a bit of a data geek):

I've been excitedly following all this, and now I sort of feel like I'm in Internet peak traffic withdrawal.  (Although I'm of course very grateful that my day to day traffic has basically doubled over the last month, although it's hard to see in that graphic since the March peak is so massive that everything else gets scaled down so it looks like zero.)

The video itself has had a life of its own, with referrerals from all over the place, and sites I've never even heard of, like alt1040 in Mexico (nearly 18,000 views), Julian Gallo's site in Argentina (over 9,000 views), the Awesomer and Haha (nearly 2,500 each), and about a hundred others. As of today this has all led to over 26,000 people watching the video, and that's like a sold out Madison Square Garden (about 19,000) plus an entire extra Radio City Music Hall (about 6,000). 

But it's also very weird because it's as if a few people filed into Madison Square Garden, and they then called all their friends and told them to come, and by the end the whole thing was full and overflowed into and filled up Radio City. But it's also like a weird dream, since I can't see any of their faces, and after they watched my video, they just closed their laptops and filed out to the street in silence to move onto somewhere else. The Internet is a strange place!