Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Default

The grim power of the default option—from an article describing Pandora’s possible success:
Though AM/FM radio’s popularity is waning, listeners still tune in for more than two hours a day, according to Bridge Ratings. By contrast, based on Pandora’s figures, its users log in on average for considerably less time. That could take some shine off Pandora’s ability to aim ads more precisely.

I’m not sure how good the radio ratings are; as far as I know they still rely on handwritten journals to compile their ratings, which are a comically bad system for precisely measuring what people are doing when. But still, if you think about it the numbers aren’t totally implausible: Americans spend a lot of time driving. What is distressing about the statistics is the attraction to the default option—people listen to radio because it’s there. On the list of “media with the dumbest people associated with it”, radio is only a step above comment threads, and that may be because money buys the relatively sane. But still—have you listened to the radio during prime commuting hours? The people are more-or-less universally dumb, talking about inanities, and doing fifth-grader pranks. Do people actually listen to this stuff? I was under the impression people listened to the radio for, you know, the music.

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