The most amazing thing about Leonard Cohen being number three on Billboard is that it only took 41,000 records to get there.

Adele’s been at the top end of the charts for 19 weeks now, but number one – Lana Del Rey – got there with 76,000 copies of her ‘Born To Die.’

Twenty years ago, record labels could buy truckloads of singles from key record shops to build momentum and heave records into the charts.

With no suggestion that Right Said Fred played the system, they topped the charts 20 years ago with ‘I’m Too Sexy.’ The song went platinum in the US, signifying over two million copies sold. I know that’s comparing albums with singles, but even the album (‘Up’) went gold, selling half a million copies.

The numbers are so much smaller now, but the cultural stakes are just as high. Are we in a time when it’s easier than ever to game the system?

In the last magazine circulation figures, FHM’s numbers halved. It’s now lower than The Monthly. But across the board, from Masterchef to Big League, magazine circulation was down in the final six months of last year compared to the same period a year before.

Australian Geographic, which dropped from 121 to 95 thousand in the same period, had more than 200,000 subscribers when it was sold to Fairfax in 1995.

There’s a lot of criticism around of social metrics like Klout, PeerIndex and Alexa. But clearly many old metrics are failing.

There are so many datasets: Spotify, last.fm or Rhapsody listens; pinterest, Facebook or Digg shares; views, downloads, tweets. Aggregating measures is a fraught process, at best, but in our splintered world don’t we need a way to make sense of it all?