Tag Archives: Andrew Sullivan

“The administration has now lost all credibility.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 5.19.16 PM
The Huffington Post, with a typically subtle headline.

When you’re a Democratic president and The New York Times’ editorial board has utterly lost its faith in you, you may have done something wrong:

Within hours of the disclosure that the federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.

Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability. The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.

Many responses to yesterday’s Guardian bombshell about Verizon call data being scooped up en masse by the NSA have been less than furious. Notably, the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, said, “This is called protecting America. People want the homeland kept safe.” She also helpfully pointed out, without a trace of concern, that this secret court order is apparently just one in a long string of them dating back consecutively to 2006. She also made sure to explain: “This is just metadata. There is no content involved. In other words, no content of a communication.”

Andrew Sullivan likewise joined the quickly swelling ranks of those that are mostly unbothered by the revelation:

I’m neither shocked nor that outraged. Meta-data is not the content of our phone records.

On that front, this kind of meta-data gathering hasn’t outraged me too much under either administration. This kind of technology is one of the US’ only competitive advantages against Jihadists. Yes, its abuses could be terrible. But so could the consequences of its absence.

But Sullivan and his cohorts are completely wrong on this point — and they’re wrong in three crucial but different ways: technically, logistically, and philosophically.

First, metadata — even when it excludes the subscriber’s name, as the secret court order claims — is just about the furthest thing from anonymity. Back in March, MIT News reported on a new study showing just how little metadata is required to pinpoint a specific individual:

Researchers at MIT and the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium, analyzed data on 1.5 million cellphone users in a small European country over a span of 15 months and found that just four points of reference, with fairly low spatial and temporal resolution, was enough to uniquely identify 95 percent of them.

In other words, to extract the complete location information for a single person from an “anonymized” data set of more than a million people, all you would need to do is place him or her within a couple of hundred yards of a cellphone transmitter, sometime over the course of an hour, four times in one year. A few Twitter posts would probably provide all the information you needed, if they contained specific information about the person’s whereabouts.

Second, as Jane Mayer of The New Yorker points out, the actual content of the call — that is, audio or a transcript of the conversation — is not necessarily as valuable as the patterns and networks that can be traced from metadata:

For example, she said, in the world of business, a pattern of phone calls from key executives can reveal impending corporate takeovers. Personal phone calls can also reveal sensitive medical information: “You can see a call to a gynecologist, and then a call to an oncologist, and then a call to close family members.” And information from cell-phone towers can reveal the caller’s location. Metadata, she pointed out, can be so revelatory about whom reporters talk to in order to get sensitive stories that it can make more traditional tools in leak investigations, like search warrants and subpoenas, look quaint. “You can see the sources,” she said. When the F.B.I. obtains such records from news agencies, the Attorney General is required to sign off on each invasion of privacy. When the N.S.A. sweeps up millions of records a minute, it’s unclear if any such brakes are applied.

Finally, even on a philosophical or ideological level, Sullivan is wrong about the danger of not pursuing such invasive surveillance tactics. Stephen Walt takes it away:

There are two obvious counters. First, the United States (and its allies) are hardly lacking in “competitive advantages” against jihadists. On the contrary, they have an enormous number of advantages: They’re vastly richer, better-armed, better-educated, and more popular, and their agenda is not advanced primarily by using violence against innocent people. (When the United States does employ violence indiscriminately, it undermines its position.) And for all the flaws in American society and all the mistakes that U.S. and other leaders have made over the past decade or two, they still have a far more appealing political message than the ones offered up by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the various leaders of the Taliban. The United States is still going to be a major world power long after the contemporary jihadi movement is a discredited episode in modern history, even if the country repealed the Patriot Act and stopped all this secret domestic surveillance tomorrow.

Second, after acknowledging the potential for abuse in this government surveillance program, Sullivan warns that the “consequences of its absence” could be “terrible.” This claim depends on the belief that jihadism really does pose some sort of horrific threat to American society. This belief is unwarranted, however, provided that dedicated and suicidal jihadists never gain access to nuclear weapons. Conventional terrorism — even of the sort suffered on 9/11 — is not a serious threat to the U.S. economy, the American way of life, or even the personal security of the overwhelming majority of Americans, because al Qaeda and its cousins are neither powerful nor skillful enough to do as much damage as they might like. And this would be the case even if the NSA weren’t secretly collecting a lot of data about domestic phone traffic. Indeed, as political scientist John Mueller and civil engineer Mark Stewart have shown, post-9/11 terrorist plots have been mostly lame and inept, and Americans are at far greater risk from car accidents, bathtub mishaps, and a host of other undramatic dangers than they are from “jihadi terrorism.” The Boston bombing in April merely underscores this point: It was a tragedy for the victims but less lethal than the factory explosion that occurred that same week down in Texas. But Americans don’t have a secret NSA program to protect them from slipping in the bathtub, and Texans don’t seem to be crying out for a “Patriot Act” to impose better industrial safety. Life is back to normal here in Boston (Go Sox!), except for the relatively small number of people whose lives were forever touched by an evil act.

In other words, the NSA’s wiretapping program that began under Bush and has now very apparently flourished under Obama is every bit as bad as it sounds. The New York Times got it exactly right: the Obama administration has lost all credibility. So why is it that we always seem so willing to forget this news so quickly?

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“Shall we do this weekly?” A statistical jaunt through View From Your Window history

The daily View From Your Window feature.
The daily View From Your Window feature.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the two years I’ve just spent in grad school (an all-too-short, intercontinental reprieve from working life that just ended with Thursday’s graduation ceremony), it’s that diversions from studying and writing papers are absolutely crucial in order to stay sane.

Enter The Dish. Longtime readers of my blog (hello, family) will know that I’m a Dish obsessive, and I probably spend more time scrolling through its contents than on most other sites combined. One of the blog’s most popular features is the View From Your Window, which is really two features in one. In the daily version, Andrew Sullivan posts a reader-submitted picture of a view from a window, with a caption revealing where the photo was taken. And in the weekly feature that runs every Saturday, Sullivan posts a view from a window without any caption, inviting readers instead to guess the location. Dish readers are scarily accurate, generally finding the exact window of whatever building the photographer was in when (s)he snapped the photo. (And yes, I will be sending in a guess for Saturday’s View From Your Window contest.)

Since I’ve spent much of the last month or so cramming in last-minute papers, reports, and presentations, the need to escape has become more pronounced as well. And so that is how I came to catalog — sporadically, in fits and starts between bursts of academic inspiration — every daily and weekly View From Your Window post in the “modern era” of VFYW — the honorary category I’ve awarded to the library of posts starting from the very first weekly contest on June 9, 2010. (The source file is available here.) Continue reading “Shall we do this weekly?” A statistical jaunt through View From Your Window history

Are online paywalls too little, too late?

Courtesy of LUMA Partners.
Courtesy of LUMA Partners LLC.

Michael Wolff thinks so:

Without a dramatic turnaround in advertising income, there are only two strategies – neither mutually exclusive – for the continued existence of newspapers, in digital or any other form:

• Having established the paywall model, the goal, in a race against time, is to extend it to a greater and greater part of the user base. Like the paywall itself, this is unchartered territory. Rupert Murdoch’s more absolute paywalls having worked significantly less well than the New York Times’ porous wall. The Times, however, counting on its brand power and on the gradual change in consumer behavior, is trying to up the ante, recently cutting its free take from 20 to ten articles.

• Re-orient the cost basis of the business, still largely modeled on advertising income, to the much smaller subscription revenue base. That is, fire a lot of people.

This is, actually, good news, if not necessarily for shareholders or for many employees. Some newspapers can continue to exist, albeit as vastly smaller and less profitable businesses.

I have a few points in response. First, Wolff characterizes newspapers’ plummeting revenue in the following terms: “A digital advertising environment on the web – one even more pronounced in mobile – that relentlessly increases the amount of advertising space available and lowers the value of all space overall.”

Wolff is mostly right, for now. But that’s only because advertisers have yet to figure out what’s valuable. I worked in online advertising for two years (including one year for a behavioral targeting firm), and I can say with some confidence that we still don’t have adequate metrics to measure advertising success online — hence the degradation of online real estate. But soon enough, the advertising landscape will have to revert to form.

Why? Well, because advertisers don’t like paying for something that provides no value. It’s astonishing just how little advertisers still know about their own data in 2013 — that is, the audiences on their own web sites, the customers buying their products, and so on. The problem is even worse when it comes to connecting with new audiences, also known as advertising. Not only do the companies themselves not understand the data, but many of the online advertising firms that these companies have hired know little about what they’re selling as well. (Take a look at the above headache-inducing graphic of the online media landscape to understand why.) Continue reading Are online paywalls too little, too late?

The Supreme Court decision will (not) be televised

Courtesy of TheAtlantic.com.
…Even though the world might be a better place with Sotomayor reaction GIFs. Picture via TheAtlantic.com.

I’m of two minds about Al Tompkins’ Poynter piece (excerpted below) advocating cameras in the Supreme Court, which Andrew Sullivan highlighted on The Dish yesterday:

This is at the heart of what courts do every day in America; they hear the people’s business. It’s not entertainment, like Judge Judy. It is a living civics lesson, and exactly what the public should be able to see.

Live coverage would give the people unfettered access to the words the justices say, and would make it harder for journalists to add their own spin. Live coverage would also help us visualize what’s going on much more than words can.

My thoughts can be divided into roughly two camps: (1) SCOTUS’ Problem with Embracing Technology (or, Why I Think We Will See Live Video of Arguments In the Future), and (2) SCOTUS’ Problem with Protecting Court Integrity (Why Cameras are Both Good and Bad). Continue reading The Supreme Court decision will (not) be televised

“Pwning” Krugman? Not so much.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOvBkg89a8c]

Andrew Sullivan posted some thoughts — titled “Pwning Krugman” — on the above video:

Still, Scarborough came prepared and clearly prevailed over a Nobel laureate in economics. Not bad for a hack. And he’s dead right about Krugman’s contempt for those with whom he disagrees. It actually weakens his case unnecessarily. And I have to say that over the past five years, I think Krugman has been more right than wrong.

Is Sullivan watching the same video I am? Scarborough not only misrepresented the substance of Krugman’s critique (multiple times, via multiple intentional misreadings of Krugman’s older books), but he seems to have done this deliberately. If he “pwned” Krugman, it’s only in the sense that a Nobel Prize-winning economist doesn’t spend most of his time learning to look good while being consistently wrong on TV. (I should know this: I just saw Krugman speak at a TEDx event a few weeks ago, and he wasn’t any more impressive as a speaker from fifteen feet away as he is on TV.)

What Krugman (oddly enough) didn’t emphasize sufficiently in his exchange with Scarborough is that both of the excerpts from his books came from well before the financial crisis era: 1997 and 2005. Instead, he rather admirably admitted that he had “learned a few things” since that time. This is certainly the case — and, it might be said, contrasts with Sullivan’s depiction of “Krugman’s contempt for those with whom he disagrees.”

(Side note: The New Yorker ran a fascinating profile of Krugman and his wife, the economist Robin Wells, in March 2010. One of the great nuggets from that piece was the revelation that it is Wells, and not Krugman, who tends to write with more vitriol: “On the rare occasion when they disagree about something, she will be the one urging him to be more outraged or recalcitrant.”)

But back to the Krugman/Scarborough debate. In both of the Krugman quotes that Scarborough cites, the crisis was years away. (In the case of the first quote, it was an entire decade away.) As Krugman tried to explain, he wrote about the dangers of the deficit back then precisely because the economy was stronger during those periods. But Scarborough consistently ignored the fact that Krugman has, time and time again, emphasized the foolishness of tackling the deficit during a recovery from a recession. To simply ignore this central qualification of Krugman’s deficit critique is to ignore the entire argument. “Pwning” Krugman? Not in the least.

(UPDATE — 10:51 AM EST 3/6/2013): I’m watching the full debate now. Krugman actually did a substantively much better job of making his point clear — that deficit reduction should be contingent upon a healthier economy — than he did in the brief clip shown above. (He continued to stumble when Scarborough brought up his previous quotes, despite the fact that these words were written during healthier economic times.) Indeed, he seems to have performed much better in the full debate than he even did in that short clip.

One person who agrees with Andrew Sullivan’s depiction of the “pwnage?” Well, Paul Krugman (kinda):

Well, we’ll see how it comes out after editing, but I feel that I just had my Denver debate moment: I was tired, cranky, and unready for the blizzard of misleading factoids and diversionary stuff (In 1997 you said that the aging population was a big problem! When Social Security was founded life expectancy was only 62!) Oh, and I wasn’t prepared for Joe Scarborough’s slipperiness about what he actually advocates (he’s for more spending in the near term? Who knew?)

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Beyond the Dish meter, part II

A week ago, I took a look at Andrew Sullivan’s blogThe Dish, in order to see how the implementation of a “Read On” meter had affected the content structure of his blog. I found the following:

Bottom line: Andrew Sullivan has almost perfectly inverted his “Read On” content from before to after the implementation of the meter. From January 1 to 7, he posted 231 times; of those, only 52 (22.5%) included “Read On” buttons. Of those 52 “Read On” sections, 35 consisted primarily of third-party content (67.3%), 12 mostly contained material produced by Andrew and his readers (23.1%), and the remaining 5 were a combination of Andrew/readers and third-party content (9.6%).

From February 4 to 10, however, several things changed. The number of total posts was almost identical to the January period (227), but — as he promised — there were significantly fewer “Read On” posts in the first week of the new meter (27, or only 11.9% of the total). Of those 27, 19 contained content primarily contributed by Andrew and his readers (70.4%), 5 contained a combination (18.5%), and only 3 “Read On” sections during the entire week contained content mostly attributable to third parties (11.1%, or 1.3% of the entire population of posts this past week).

For more on the methodology of exactly how I categorized Sullivan’s various posts, see the original post. The first graph below depicts the stats for January 1 – 7, a week I chose as the control group for The Dish‘s content structure before the meter:

Before the meter.
Before the meter.

This second graph portrays the composition of The Dish‘s content from the very first full week that the meter was in effect, February 4 – 10:

Just after the meter.
The first week of the meter.

As Sullivan pointed out, The Dish rolled out the meter slowly in its first week: compared to the control week in January, when 22% of all posts contained “Read On” buttons, only 12% of all posts had the button in the first week of the meter. Furthermore, the type of content behind the meter was quite different: whereas the control period was dominated by third-party content beyond the “Read On” button, in the first week of the meter the majority of “Read On” sections primarily contained content produced by Andrew Sullivan and his readers.

Because that first week under the new meter was intended to be a bit of a test run, it remained to be seen how the stats would change (or stay the same) once the “Read On” button began to be used at a more normal frequency. So as a follow-up, I’ve now conducted an identical study of the very next week, February 11 – 17.

The total number of posts was similar to that of the previous two periods (237). Of those posts, 50 (21.1%) contained a “Read On” button: note that this is almost exactly the same percentage as in the control week (22.5%). Of those 50 sections located after the “Read On” button, 22 (44.0%) contained content primarily produced by Andrew and his readers, 20 (40.0%) contained content mostly taken from third-party sources, and the remaining 8 (16.0%) contained a combination of both. See the graph below:

The second week of the meter.
The second week of the meter.

Again, I have shared the entire Excel spreadsheet here, in case anyone wishes to contest my methodology or categorization. As I mentioned in my original post:

Obviously, there is a small subjective element to the endeavor. However, this is probably much less significant than one might think: the vast majority of posts on The Dish – and this applies equally to the “Read On” and non-”Read On” sections of each post – quite clearly fall into one of the three categories specified above: content produced primarily by Andrew and/or his readers, content produced primarily by third parties, and content containing a mixture of both.

So after a pretty significant dip in “Read On” posts in the first week of the meter — while the kinks were being ironed out — The Dish‘s content has since returned to its pre-meter ratio of non-“Read On” to “Read On” posts. However, what lies beyond the meter has shifted: whereas 67.3% of all “Read On” sections before the meter contained mostly third-party content, now the plurality of “Read Ons” (44.0%) consist of content provided by Andrew and his readers (from analysis to letters to views from people’s windows). The proportion composed of third-party content has fallen to 40.0%, with the remaining 16.0% of all “Read On” sections comprised of material that contains both.

What this likely means is that Sullivan and his team have taken to heart the precautions of readers and commentators who noted that, to charge for content, the part that’s hidden to non-subscribers should tend to be more original — as opposed to a curation of third-party material.

One thing I didn’t touch on in my original post, but which I did measure, is the composition of every post before the “Read On” button — that is, the portion of each post one can see whether or not one is a subscriber. (This includes posts without a “Read On” button at all.) In the January 1 – 7 period, content was divided thusly: 67.5% of pre-“Read On” sections were primarily third-party content, 21.6% were content produced by Andrew Sullivan and his readers, and the remaining 10.8% were a mixture of both. (This was an almost identical proportion to the composition of the material after the “Read On” button during the same period.)

For the February 4 – 10 period, these numbers were: 64.8% = third-party content, 22.5% = Andrew/readers, and 12.8% = a combination. (I’m rounding to one decimal point here, so that’s why it doesn’t add up to exactly 100.0%.)

And for this last week (February 11 – 17), here are the proportions: 63.7% = third-party content, 21.5% = Andrew/readers, and 14.8% = a combination. Considering the fact that all three time periods had almost identical compositions of material before the “Read On” button, the significant changes in material beyond the button present an even starker contrast.

I believe Sullivan mentioned recently that if the pace of subscribers didn’t pick up, he may “nudge” them towards paying their dues. This could happen in one of two ways. Either he could reduce the number of monthly “Read On” clicks it takes to trigger the meter (it’s currently at seven), or he could introduce more “Read On” posts as a percentage of his total posts. As an early subscriber, it doesn’t really matter to me which one he chooses. But so far at least, the content lying beyond the “Read On” button certainly seems to justify the annual fee.

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Read on and on: The Dish, before and after the meter

dishAs most of the world knows by now — and by that I refer mainly to people like the ones that populate my Twitter feed — Andrew Sullivan has cut himself loose. On Monday, February 4th, The Dish officially switched over from the Daily Beast to Sullivan’s own WordPress-hosted site.

The change comes with a few extra bells and whistles: no ads or clutter, automatic resizing on smartphones (although this has yet to work on my iPhone), infinite scrolling, and so on. Probably my favorite new feature is the search engine — or as Sullivan put it, “I have given a sharp dagger for anyone who wants to make me look foolish.” On the very first day his new site appeared, in fact, I inadvertently stumbled upon this gem from October 2002:

The last phony anti-war argument was that President Bush had yet to “make the case” for war against Iraq, as if grown-ups didn’t have the capacity to make their own minds up on the issue without constant guidance from the commander-in-chief. But that surely must now be in tatters as a point, since the president has made speech after speech in the last year clearly laying out the rationale for the war on terror, a rationale that has always included defanging Saddam.


Anyway, the main transformation of The Dish is that it will now charge for its content. More precisely, after seven “Read On” clicks within a 30-day period, readers will be directed to a subscription page, where they’ll be able to sign up for a year of The Dish at the very manageable annual rate of $19.99.

As a medium-intensity Dish obsessive (on the spectrum, I’m somewhere between “regular reader” and “currently tattooing the Dish beagle to my forehead”) and aspiring journalist, I took great interest in Sullivan’s gamble, which basically amounted to throwing off the corporate chains — chains that were accompanied, of course, by a large financial backing — and going it alone. I began to wonder, as did many other readers, how the switch from a principally advertising-supported venture to one backed directly by the readers would affect the content and form of The Dish itself.

This being Andrew Sullivan, he was only too happy to share his readers’ concerns in the days leading up to the switchover. (In fact, Sullivan’s masochistic willingness, rare among bloggers, to frequently publish reader emails excoriating his commentary is one of the main reasons I was so happy to subscribe to the new reader-supported iteration of The Dish.)

After Sullivan published one reader’s blunt adieu to The Dish on January 3rd — “For better or worse I like my Internet free,” (s)he declared, and then, one hopes, enrolled in Microeconomics 101 — he reassured his audience: “A reminder to our reader and others that the vast majority of Dish content will remain free to non-members.”

Two weeks later, in response to more reader reactions, Sullivan again noted: “Even if all of my longer posts are metered, only a portion of my writing will go behind the read-on, thus allowing all readers to get the gist of the post, regardless of subscription.”

Perhaps most interestingly to me, however, was the cautionary point raised by another reader several days earlier:

Another reader worries that “there may be potential copyright issues if it was less than 50% original content/comments by the Dish team with a “charge” being issued by the Dish.” But another writes:

The read-on might actually work to the external sources’ advantage, in that non-payers will then have more reason to follow the link to the original if they’re interested.

The above-mentioned post, in fact, contained a variety of creative suggestions from readers as to how, exactly, Sullivan should handle the “Read On” issue. Now that all content beyond the “Read On” button (after the first seven monthly clicks, that is) requires payment, it would be interesting to see just what type of content Sullivan is placing behind the “paywall” (a term Sullivan himself dislikes but which more or less describes his new model).

Long story short: I’ve just now completed such a study. First, I analyzed every post on The Dish in the one-week period from January 1 to January 7, 2013, in which I categorized each entry by:

A) whether it included a “Read On” button

B) what type of content came before the “Read On” button (as in, the part that is visible without expanding the post): (1) primarily Sullivan and/or reader commentary, (2) primarily third-party content (e.g. excerpts from an article, column, or essay), or (3) a combination of both Sullivan/readers and third-party content (as when Sullivan excerpts articles and then critiques their points, rather than, for example, simply excerpting another article rebutting the first one)

C) what type of content came beyond the “Read On” button (using the same criteria), if there was one

I chose the first week of 2013 (somewhat arbitrarily) as my control group because it preceded the implementation of the meter model. I then performed the same analysis on all posts on The Dish in the week from February 4th (the first full day under the new meter model) to February 10th. (All times are in EST, by the way.)

A few caveats are in order. First, as Andrew Sullivan himself made clear, the opening week of his new site is not exactly a perfect representation of how the “Read On” button will be utilized in the future. On February 6th, in response to a reader who questioned the additional value granted by subscribing, Sullivan noted:

That’s because after two days, we’ve been going easy on the meter. We’ll adjust as we go along. We want to keep the majority of the site free, but the deeper analyses, reader threads, my own writing, and other features will slowly become less accessible to the non-subscriber. It’s a balance, and we’re trying to figure our way forward with it.

As you will see below, so far this formulation has meant a significant departure from Sullivan’s use of “Read On” prior to the advent of the meter. Back then, in my sample, over two-thirds of all “Read On” segments — that is, the portions of his posts that lay beyond the “Read On” button — consisted primarily of third-party content. Now, however, “deeper analyses, reader threads, [his] own writing, and other features” have gained an increasing share of the “Read On” pie. (Again, keep in mind that things are still in flux: it’s only been a week.)

A second caution applies to my criteria for categorizing the posts. Obviously, there is a small subjective element to the endeavor. However, this is probably much less significant than one might think: the vast majority of posts on The Dish — and this applies equally to the “Read On” and non-“Read On” sections of each post — quite clearly fall into one of the three categories specified above: content produced primarily by Andrew and/or his readers, content produced primarily by third parties, and content containing a mixture of both.

To use some of his more popular features as an example, both sections of a typical “View From Your Window” post (both the content before and beyond the “Read On” button, in other words) would obviously fall into the first category. A “Mental Health Break,” which rarely contains a “Read On” button, would usually fit into the second, since these posts generally consist of a video produced by someone else with no more than an accompanying line or two from Sullivan. And an “Yglesias Award Nominee” post, while possibly fitting into the second category, often instead went into the third — as Sullivan frequently added his own commentary to the quote itself (either in the pre- or post-“Read On” sections of the post). Anyway, in the interest of transparency, I have included a link to my full Excel spreadsheet analysis here.

Bottom line: Andrew Sullivan has almost perfectly inverted his “Read On” content from before to after the implementation of the meter. From January 1 to 7, he posted 231 times; of those, only 52 (22.5%) included “Read On” buttons. Of those 52 “Read On” sections, 35 consisted primarily of third-party content (67.3%), 12 mostly contained material produced by Andrew and his readers (23.1%), and the remaining 5 were a combination of Andrew/readers and third-party content (9.6%).

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 1.02.23 AM

From February 4 to 10, however, several things changed. The number of total posts was almost identical to the January period (227), but — as he promised — there were significantly fewer “Read On” posts in the first week of the new meter (27, or only 11.9% of the total). Of those 27, 19 contained content primarily contributed by Andrew and his readers (70.4%), 5 contained a combination (18.5%), and only 3 “Read On” sections during the entire week contained content mostly attributable to third parties (11.1%, or 1.3% of the entire population of posts this past week).

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 1.03.58 AM

Of course, only time will tell if this trend of more original material after the “Read On” button continues. It would certainly make sense, since this section is now being charged for after seven monthly clicks (which probably took the average Dish reader, what, five minutes to hit on February 4th?). I’d expect the percentage of posts that contain “Read On” buttons to rise pretty soon, because that’s one of the primary added-value propositions of subscribing. But I suppose how quickly this all happens will depend on a number of factors, including how many new subscribers Sullivan is scooping up on a regular basis now that more and more casual readers are starting to hit the meter.

In any case, I’m excited to see a blogger of Sullivan’s caliber jumping into such a bold experiment, and I wish him the best! I certainly don’t always agree with him, but even when he’s wrong, he’s never boring.