Might be time to drop third party analytics (programming)

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written by owen on 2018-May-17.

With the new Data Retention policies coming into place in the EU and the convoluted interface. It might be time to drop third party popular analytics tools. People have been moving away from these services for years but I have been slow to take up the task because I am lazy and I figure that it is going to be a mountain of work.

Originally in 2004 I was going to write my own custom analytic solution because of time constraints and I busy writing a custom blog I was not in the mood to take on another big programming project. Plus Google Analytics was really simple and free to use. Nowadays not so much. The interface is cluncky and the main reasons I used it (referrers and keywords) seems to be pushed to the backburner in favour of Sessions and Bounce Rate. It also keeps trying to get me to sign up for other stuff are of no interest to me.

Social Media and Google themselves have not been making it easy over the years by hiding keywords and other unscrupulous behavior in the name of privacy and security. And as the search business changes you have to change with it. Imagine thousands of people are searching, end up on your website but the keywords are hidden from you because you choose not to join a revenue stream.

If you are worried about security you can hack individuals but far better to hack the source itself. If you depend on Google services then you are pretty much stuck but the rest of us are always looking for ways to escape the clutches of the big 3 companies that control certain parts of the technology sphere. GA is just another case of a bait and switch tool to lure free users into paid services.

Privacy and Security has become a version of monopoly control in today's landscape. End to end encryption is only as secure as long as the people on the other end are not actively trying to mine your data. You agree to a terms of service which allows them to do anything they want with the data and sell it to the highest bidder. This is how its been over the years but the forces that be are making it harder to escape the APIs, platforms and services that they have set up to herd developers into a pen of co-dependence. You can innovate as long as you innovate on our platform!

There are alot of benefits that I gained from GA such as free IPA by country lookups for visitors and big charts of aggregated data that I never use. But I guess I have reached the point where the utility of the free service is diminishing on my end and Google is gaining extra insite at my expense. I am a firm believer in that in whatever you do you should be getting at least a little better at it everyday. It seems this is not the case with Analytics. Its just getting worse and complicated.

I could always switch to an alternative tool but these services are all time bombs ticking away. Today you say to dey ya, tommorow say you gone and you naw come back. I would hate to imagine where I would be today if I had went with a wordpress or a movable type when I started blogging. More than 90% of the blogs from that era no longer exist - lost in the space in time, sucked into the social media void of cats videos and OMG look at this amaaaazzzing. Even Flickr a once great monolith that roamed the digital photography plains has gone the way of the dinosaurs. I would hate to see what is going to happen to all those blogs who depended on the flickr APIs.

Since I just finished writing a search project I figure its time to drop this little javascript bug that I have been caring around for all these years and dive into the visitor analytics problem. It might be fun, you never know what you can learn from a little pain and suffering.

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