Friday, September 16, 2005

Flip-flopping the polls

The election is nearly here, then come the pork barrel politics determining what party policies will really be. Ignoring suspect promises of jam today, for me the most interesting feature of this election is the surprise that media commentators are showing over the seeming random nature of poll results. My feeling is that this is a result of the use of technology, especially the speed and ease with which these polls can be carried out and analysed.

Years ago polls were big events, done by mysterious experts with all the pseudo-credibility that implied; this is a blog, I can be judgemental. I come from a generation who if approached by a pollster would try to give an accurate answer; far worse my response would affect my final decision, just through the process of being asked, making a response based on feelings now, then feel that I should be consistent through an obligation of some kind. In effect the observer was affecting my long term behaviour by hailing or interpellating me as a subject who has little ability to reappraise my current ideas in the future. But, like others, I'm relearning the noble art of stroppiness. With the increasing fluidity of information that our now very immediate media technology give us (is this immediation, bet somebody has invented the word), we seem to be getting better equipped to resist being interpellated by pollsters. They ask, we answer, then we change our minds. This is a good thing, part because it makes the pollsters look daft, part because it indicates an awareness of this effect and how it can be used, perhaps unintentionally, to control our future actions; we're getting stroppier.

People are finding their inner flip-flop, and no matter what Karl Rove may say about it, it is a good thing, it is flexibility and the ability to make up your mind based on the now not some pre-packaged idea from the past, then we can revise that idea later as new information floods in from all that technology. At least I think it was Rove who defined the way the Republicans attacked Kerry because he thought about issues rather than basing his thinking on prejudice, so they kept calling him a flip-flopper.

Of course, on the other hand, people might be lying just to annoy the pollsters, well that would be good too and just as indicative of our adaptation to the new media world. And that is something the media gurus haven't latched on to yet, certainly have not adapted to. They will, but lets hope we can keep our edge.

Final point, like Kevin said, do vote. It may be that politicians lie and cheat and don't do what they promised but that does not take away our responsibility to make sure they know we care and will remember those false promises next time. Just keep on using their technology against them, be stroppy, flop-flop, get into jandal mode.


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