Sunday, December 2, 2007

(h)Accuracy, Inc.


Here's an idea for a business that will never exist. First, the rationale.

1. It's no secret that the Internet has decentralized and specialized media of all kinds, including news and information. We used to have three major networks, a handful of radio stations, some national and local magazines and newspapers. Now, if you're a Methodist 33-year old female from Topeka who loves beagles, plays cribbage, knows the nuances of dry sherry and collects twisty straws, there's a blog, a glossy mag and a Facebook group just for you.

The point: Americans can now go through their entire lives exposed only to the information that already interests them, and that they already agree with.

2. Thousands of people make really good livings based solely on the perception that they can predict the future. I'm not talking about psychic mediums (media?). I'm talking about every expert on every topic... including (taking my image as a small example), war, sports, weather and money.

The point: The actual accuracy of these people has very little effect on their employability. The perception of their authoritativeness does.

In short, I am utterly convinced that the people perceived as authorities on most topics are not actually the most accurate. And from now on, I want accuracy. We need a central source in our fragmented, ultra-specialized world that trumps perception with reality. We have bond raters; why not accuracy raters?

- Richard Perle sounded authoritative when he said, “A year from now I’d be surprised if there’s not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.” He should never be able to get a job in politics again. (Actually, maybe if Guiliani gets elected, he'll build the square himself.)

- Sports TV and radio are littered with new-generation Jimmy the Greeks like Sean Salisbury and Mike Ditka who predict every game in the NFL season. Are they more accurate than my four-year-old? If not, bye bye.

- Weathercasters stand in front of acid-trip graphics and earn God knows what (half a million a year in the Twin Cities? I have no idea...) Do you know which local meteorologist is the most accurate? Why not? They publish five-day forecasts every day... the data are overwhelming.

- Jim Cramer is one of how many people raking in millions based on the perception that they can help you know what the stock market is going to do tomorrow. Who rates them based on their results and exposes every bad one? Anyone?

A simple rating system regardless of industry or subject matter: 1-10, 10 being the most accurate. You pay a mere $1 a day to access a website. There, you find out who is actually wrong or right, genius or fraud, prescient or retarded.

Now, the question is this: Would it be worth it to you? And if you knew who was most accurate, most often, would you trust them with your vote, your money, your life?

P.S. I basically make a living being trusted to predict how people will respond to products, services and ideas in what is known as "the marketing world." Please don't rate me.

9 comments:

The Wordman said...

where did you do your Marketing schoolin', boy? didn't you ever learn the saying "don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle"??

it ain't the accuracy that people are buying, it is the *appearance* of accuracy. compare this with religious belief: it isn't that the hand of God is controlling all actions in the world, but that people think they see the *appearance* of God's hand -- they feel safe because it appears to them that someone knows the answers, someone is in control, someone can be relied upon.

even though the "accuracy" they believe in is just so much bullshit. people (*sigh*) just want to believe, just like Fox Mulder.

Anonymous said...

God told me to give The Wordman's comment a 6.

DK

The Wordman said...

quit talkin to yourself, God.

mike said...

Jeeeeeeeeeeeeesus!

The Wordman said...

by the way, Happy Hanukkah -- and if you want to reaffirm how low and loathsome Christopher Hitchens can get in his religion-baiting, check out his latest screed on Slate, "Bah, Hanukkah": http://www.slate.com/id/2179045/

michael f. said...

Jesus, yes. He was quite the marketing genius. That whole water-into-wine stunt, amazing. A marketing campaign for the ages.

Marc Conklin said...

How did this turn into a discussion on religion?

Anonymous said...

Ok, Marc (aka Mr. OCD)....if I knew who was most accurate most often I would trust them with my vote (maybe) my money (sometimes, but within limits) and my life (you're kidding, right?).

You know this whole blogging thing would work SO much better if you would just come to grips w/the fact that its the inmates, and not the guys in the little white suits, running the joint.

Happy 1st day of Hanukkah.

DK

m. f. said...

Religion is marketing is religion is...