“PUBLIC OPINION SHAPES OUR DESTINIES AND GUIDES THE PROGRESS OF HUMAN AFFAIRS.”
– Frank B. Kellogg
Our views and opinions matter. They matter to us personally, they affect those immediately around us, and they should matter to society as a whole.
Collectively, our opinions come together as “public opinion” – and it’s a powerful beast by most accounts…
“PUBLIC OPINION IS STRONGER THAN THE LEGISLATURE, AND NEARLY AS STRONG AS THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.”
– Charles Dudley Warner
But consider this: how well are you actually represented by “public opinion”?
When was the last time your opinion was included in something which laid claim to being representative of public opinion? How often are you asked for your opinion on the big issues that you care about?
Not often enough, we say.
Democracy has long promised us equal representation for our views – to give us the opportunity to contribute our opinions, and ensure they count just as much as the next person’s. And now the Internet has presented us with a fantastic level playing field for communicating and accessing information.
…the Internet has presented us with a fantastic level playing field for communicating and accessing information.
When it comes to expressing our opinions, we have social networks, messaging services, commenting tools, web polls, surveys, petitions, blogs, forums – indeed there are plenty of places to share our opinion. But that’s a problem: there’s just too many places to share your opinion… it’s impossible to know where your opinion is best served, so opinion ends up being scattered everywhere – “a mile wide and an inch deep”.
Another problem is that sharing your opinion online is time consuming. On social networks – in order to gain any sort of recognition – you’ll need to create some form of qualitative composition, whether it be an engaging tweet, a comment, an interesting essay, or an entertaining string of emojis. If it’s something research-oriented then you’re likely to be faced with a string of probing questions and qualifying criteria to complete.
A third issue is the inequality that exists. Social networks work on systems of merit – those with more followers, fame, or marketing funds have a louder voice than those who do not. If it’s a survey, then it’s only those that made the weighted sample who end up being heard. And if it’s a petition, then the inequality is found in the format – where’s the representation for the other side of the debate?
Social networks work on systems of merit – those with more followers, fame, or marketing funds have a louder voice than those who do not.
Numerous other problems exist and persist consistently online – bias, credibility, authority, lack of privacy, context, exclusion, apathy, financial incentives, data integrity, motives… but we’ll save those for another day.
So what does this mean?
Well it means that the vast volumes of public opinion shared online is highly decentralised – literally scattered everywhere, against a different contextual backdrop each time (even within the same platform) – making it extremely difficult to measure, diluting it, and therefore making it very easy to discredit and disregard.
…public opinion shared online is highly decentralised – literally scattered everywhere, against a different contextual backdrop each time…
But most damaging of all is that the vast majority of us see no value in sharing our views online. We can all do it, many of us would like to do it – or do it more – but we choose not to because we can’t see the point or don’t have the time. And that’s a loss to everybody.
That’s what Pollstation is looking to address… we want to make your view count. This is a public opinion platform designed to recreate the basics of the ballot box, embrace technology, inform & entertain, and establish Pollstation as the missing link between you and public opinion.
We do hope you’ll join us, and give us your vote of approval.
“THE PUBLIC IS THE ONLY CRITIC WHOSE OPINION IS WORTH ANYTHING AT ALL.”
– Mark Twain