How far is only a part of the game

It seems the ICT sector has gleefully jumped on the bandwagon to join politicians and the television industry in playing the "numbers game". 

A story featured in IT-Online this week reported that the Live Earth concerts, held at locations around the world last Saturday, notched up a "staggering" 9-million Internet streams while almost 100-million Internet and phone users voted for the seven new wonders of the world.
These figures were widely publicised and promoted as a demonstration of how the Internet is fast emerging as a "force to be reckoned with in the entertainment and cultural arenas".
Although probably not "politically correct" and almost certainly not a readily acceptable turn of phrase in a wholesome on-line magazine such as this, the figures form part of what is more accurately described and understood as a "Pissing Contest".
Politicians have been playing the game for years. In the run-up to any election, crowd attendance at political rallies is regarded by the party faithful as the ultimate barometer of popularity. The fact that attendance figures will vary enormously depending on who you ask for an estimate – the party itself, opposition parties, the police, journalists covering the event and even independent election observers – doesn’t detract from a party claiming unrivalled leadership in the polls when opposition parties fail to match turnout at their rallies.
The television industry has been regarded as undisputed "Pissing Champions" of the world for decades – ever since Elvis Presley launched live satellite entertainment into the homes of millions from Hawaii in the early 1970s.
In fact, the ICT industry’s claim that the Live Earth concerts generated 9-million Internet streams ranks as a pathetic dribble down the leg compared to the more than 2-billion viewers who tuned into TV for the same concerts; the more than 2-billion who watched the Concert for Diana from Wembley Stadium, and the billions more who will watch the World Cup soccer final in South Africa in 2010.
In common with virtually all endeavours that rely on how big the boast is as far as the numbers are concerned, how far you can urinate is only part of the game.
The race among cell phone providers to recruit the most subscribers; recruitment drives by medical aid schemes to sign up the most members, and the chase by ISPs to get the most number of users on-line doesn’t necessarily mean that the winner provides the best value for money or service.
And you need look no further than the list of "new wonders" to confirm that sheer volume can produce some extraordinary results.
– David Bryant