Is online activity declining?

This is purely anecdotal I know, but since the Snowden / NSA scandal broke, with all the revelations about surveillance, I’ve noticed a significant decline in online activity. Not this site, because it’s always been pretty low activity. Really, what is less interesting than a self publishing writer in a niche market talking about writing and self publishing in a niche market? On various forums I read, once active posters seem to have dropped off the web, and I’m wondering if this is symptomatic of an overall decline which probably impacts on online sales. I mean for everyone.

I know that Internet use ebbs and flows like the tide, but one time enthusiastic users seem to be less enthusiastic than usual right now. This is nothing I can pin down, and seeing as it’s a developing situation there are few real resources. shows that Google search use basically fell off a cliff in early June after six months of increase. Facebook is 11% down in search activity. Yahoo also suffered a sharp decline in June. Bing a small increase. This could of course be due to the holidays, as the majority of Internet use is driven by a younger audience, and will no doubt be back up in September when school restarts. On the other hand I find myself concerned that we’re seeing the start of an ‘Internet recession’. An overall decline in Internet use as people drop ‘off grid’ in an attempt to avoid everything they say and do being logged and recorded.

Like I say, there are few reliable sources of immediate information, but I liken it to watching a change in the clouds a day before a storm rolls in. The harbingers are there. Once hyperactive users have gone silent. Companies are talking about taking their online business ‘offshore’ and even the antivirus company I use is doing deals on VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections. I’m halfway inclined to configure my router to anonymise web access like in this tutorial, but it’s such a pain to reconfig if something untoward happens at the other end (Loss of proxy, things like that).

Aug 2013 012For those of us who have bet the farm on a ‘web only’ eBook strategy, this apparent decline does not bode well.

Apropos of nothing; during a rainstorm over Dodd Narrows yesterday evening around 7:30pm, I was privileged to witness exactly what is at the end of the rainbow. On a full arc double bow.

Original image. No photoshop. This is what actually lies at the end of the rainbow.