22 October 2007

It's a ballot, Jim, but not as we know it

What is it about numbers that makes us so competitive? Being an economist I live in a world of numbers and so I am always deeply sceptical about them. So what am I to make of the fact that I appear to have been ranked seven in a list of green blogs in the UK? This is a datum that confuses me personally, as well as statistically.

Let's start with the easy stuff. The number in itself is meaningless unless I know how many green blogs I am contending with. Last year it was 100; this year only 20. Has Jim eliminated the rabble to allow more glory for those of us who remain? Or have the serious people found something better to do, so that even being 7 out of 20 only proves I have been left behind in the rush to the next great media revolution?

Perhaps Jim didn't even rank the list, allowing the citizenry to do that via the People's Vote. And if he did how does 7 compare with 1: is it seven times less good? Are we dealing with logarithmic scales here? Incidentally, while I'm on the subject of numbers, have you ever noticed how, when media people get into discussions like this one, they start referring to rocket scientists. As though finding ways to travel to other distant planets to colonise and mess them up were somehow cleverer than finding a way to survive on our own beautiful planet, which already has life on it.

What is distressing me most about this process is that I actually care about it. I am a sad competitive person masquerading as a co-operative green who isn't interested in status. Can I blame it on capitalism, the need to compete to survive, or is it just my personal karma? This is summed up by the fact that my deepest regret in life is never having been on University Challenge, although this may now have been surpassed by the regret that I didn't write the book called Starter for Ten.

Oh, shit, there it is again: a number. Why ten points for a correct answer, rather than 1 or 20 or 200? That is such a University Challenge thing isn't it? You know what: I've depressed myself. This strange relationship with the numerical is what being an economist does to you. . . I would still like your votes, though. You'll have to go to Jim Jepps's site at: http://www.jimjay.blogspot.com/ to help me out of my misery. Or will it just make it worse?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Molly,

    hope you're not too distressed about the whole thing. I'll try to answer a couple of your questions;

    "how many green blogs I am contending with" Well, in theory all of them. But as I don't have an infinite amount of time on my hands the process was this.

    I announced that it was that time of year again on my blog (and facebook) a while back and around twenty to thirty blogs were nominated to be in the running. I also included the top thirty from last year and a few blogs I knew were good but new and did not yet appear on the "short list"

    I then used the same formula as last year which was to mark the blogs on ten different categories out of ten. The categories include design, humour, interaction, etc.

    This is actually very useful because although it is not exactly scientific it helps me step away from my personal preferences especially when I actually know the bloggers in question.

    This gave me a list of twenty in a justifiable order. Now whether you can rank blogs in this way is extremely debatable. It's like comparing oranges and steam rollers. But it's a bit of fun and it does help highlight some of the more interesting, well written blogs that are out there - like yours.

    "Has Jim eliminated the rabble"

    The reason it was twenty this year is that it was for inclusion in Iain Dale's guide to political blogging and he wanted me to do twenty.

    Part of the reason is there is a wider directory in the book (unranked) this time, which there wasn't last time - I believe his thinking is that once your down to the difference between 67 and 68 the whole thing is rather meaningless.

    Anyway, congratulations again.