Skip to main content

Is Spin Inevitable?

While it is impossible to eliminate spin, we can take steps to minimize its likelihood.
The reason spin is inevitable is that people (being what they are) will always try to game the system. Personal preferences, power games, cultural styles and even technology literacy all get in the way of the end goal - pure transparency.
In addition, there is no getting away from the human bias on how pure data is presented. So the data itself is always suspect:
  1. Someone has to put the data into a format so that people can use it. That container is going to influence the way the data is perceived.
  2. "History is written by the winners." That's because there is no such thing as objective history, only the perspective of one party or another. 
  3. Any phenomenon can be observed completely differently depending on whether you are looking through a historical, sociological, biological, religious, Western/Eastern, economic etc. lens.
  4. Relying on science is not an escape. Academics have a field day taking apart the methodology used to provide data. The fact that methodology is so easily manipulated is why I don't trust quantitative studies AT ALL unless they are cross-correlated with qualitative work.
So is truth possible? Because if it is NOT possible then spin is inevitable as part of any attempt to communicate. Which is why I say:
If data is inevitably presented in a biased way, narrative will always be worse. 
Narrative itself entraps us in spin. 
How then can we talk about anything? Perhaps conversation itself is a waste of time, because it's all biased.
No - we can instead put biases in conversation with each other.
Methodologically, this involves a balanced approach to data - quantitative and qualitative.
Communication-wise, this involves interaction - or social media.
The concept of "big data" is that we draw from the well of ALL available numbers, all available data, all available studies - and look for overarching trends.
But you can't get to "big data" unless you have data sets to begin with.
Data sets can be drawn from narrative (e.g. content analysis of what organizations say about their programs in their annual reports), from survey results (customer feedback on performance), to qualitative data (interviews, focus groups where questions are standardized), ethnography (journal notes), and even data collected without human intervention - such as computerized collection of information like call wait times.
What I am arguing is:
We need more data, not less.
The taxpayer owns the data.
We should make it available raw.

*As always all opinions are my own.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

________________
All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …