Friday, July 11, 2008

The yes-no interlude

Just before I went out to get some lunch there was one of those polls on The Guardian website. Further to the knife crime issue it was asking its readers whether it was true that "people" were rude and thoughtless. Voting was running 85% in the affirmative.

The media is drunk on interaction. It has made the discovery that the dumber the question the greater the number of clicks. I don't know how I'd begin to answer that question, let alone reduce it to a yes or no. Most of the people I know are not rude and thoughtless. Most of the people I don't know are not rude and thoughtless. I encounter politeness and consideration from strangers everyday. I also encounter the opposite, in a range that runs from slovenliness to outright hostility, if not as yet knife crime. How am I supposed to decide which box to tick? Keep a numerical record and add it up at the end of each day? It just seems the most idiotic question to ask and is designed only to elicit anger and resentment, in precisely the same way that they accuse the Daily Mail of acting.

Anyway, when I got back to the office I looked for it and it seems to have gone. It may be just hiding or wiser counsels may have prevailed. I hope it's the latter.


  1. The best thing I've recently read along these lines was in Michael Bywater's Big Babies, where he wrote about the BBC News website. 'Tell us your views on the Swiss air crash,' it implored. Bywater toyed with the idea of someone writing in with the comment: 'Great! Loved it!'.

  2. This morning Sky News was running a poll on whether or not David Davis' by election had been a waste of money.

    Of course to enter the poll, you had to press the red button, which generated a phone call, which costs money so...

  3. How does web advertising work? Is it in the interests of publishers of web material to get as much virtual “footfall” as possible, on a quantity rather quality/depth of engagement basis?

  4. Anonymous8:00 pm

    The whole media has gone interactive-crazy. The self-selecting group who write in to these boards seem to belong what I might call the 'Daily Mail community' (community leaders: Richard Littlejohn and Melanie Philips.)
    I'm constantly astonished by what passes for received opinion there. For an excellent selection of the most jaw-dropping see Checking out the talkboards so that you don't have to.
    Mind you, I've just got in after a taxing afternoon at a beer festival, so I might not be the most reliable witness. I'm still sober enough to second Clair's recommendation of Bywater's Big Babies - an excellent examination of the infantilisation of contemporary society, and one which warns us that we should worry less about the 'general public' than those whom we elect to govern us.

  5. I think the Daily Mail websites would kill for the level of interaction (and sheer crossness) you can find on the Guardian site any day of the week.

  6. Anonymous9:24 pm

    The Standard's business page tonight ran the results of a poll that was magnificently, almost brutally, decisive. Will Martin Sorrell win his bid battle for TNS? it asked. Yes, mumbled 19%. No, insisted a thumping 81%. Just three questions then: 1) How would anyone other than Sorrell's team and the Board of TNS have any real idea? 2) I wonder how much 19% of sod all actually is? and 3) who on earth thought this would be interesting editorial in the first place, whatever the result?

  7. Anonymous10:27 pm

    Dare I say it, a strong argument against referenda? (or is it ok to say referendums? Not sure.)

  8. Try the comments board on this one;

    The further down you go the ruder it gets (which is often the case).

  9. On the subject of online comments I think a comparison between those left on Youtube and those left on flickr is instructive.
    On youtube you get the usual cool and lol but aslo a lot of abuse, rants and diatribes. Where as on flickr i don't think I've ever seen a negative comment "such as this photo stinks". I think this is down to a large dollop of elightened self interest as most users of youtube are pasive commsumers(they never upload anything) where as most flickr users upload their own pictures. So you less likely to slag someone off as if they click on your name they can see you eating cake at your aunty's wedding or your tasteful pictures of seaside boats and have their say.
    As to the newspaper fora I try not to read them as they are never shed any new light on the matter in hand.

  10. Time,I think, to wheel out one of my favourite pieces of interactivity ever. It doesn't look promising,but you MUST keep reading the comments.