The other day I started thinking (danger!) about single-click feedback mechanisms for ZhurnalWiki pages. Perhaps there could be a couple of buttons at the bottom of every essay, labeled "+" and "-", say, or "bravo" and "yuck". A counter somewhere would increment with each vote, and the results would be displayed either on request or by default.

Sounds straightforward, and maybe it could help reveal the interest levels and emotional/logical reactions associated with various topics. Of course a few irate wikiheads could get energetic with their mice and overwhelm the statistics. A cleverer system on the server side could track visitors' net addresses and prevent multiple voting from the same virtual location, at least within a brief interval. Some still cleverer hacks could then in turn get around that and automate the ballot-box stuffing enterprise. An arms race of further countermeasures and counter-countermeasures would follow. (All this assumes that anyone would even bother to vote.)

But far better, I've come to believe, than a binary 1 - 0 choice would be an open-ended feedback system --- something that could convey nuances of judgment and enable a critic to fully explain her or his points of disagreement, or a supporter to improve and expand upon a theme deemed important. (Hmmm --- sounds like the "Comment" box that these pages already have, eh?!)

And maybe the same applies to larger social issues? A winner-takes-all electoral vote transmits far fewer bits than a letter to the mayor. Even a couple of words blurted out en passant to a campaigning political candidate provide more information than a mark on a ballot. A few months ago, when I shook the hand of erstwhile Representative Chris Van Hollen before a local amateur baseball game and said "I like your support of libraries --- libraries are good!", that probably did more to help the world than when I stood in line at the polling place in November ....

(see also CheapShots (14 Mar 2000), AnLab (7 Mar 2002), SummerBall2002 (3 Sep 2002), MakeMoneyWhisper (9 Nov 2002), ...)

TopicZhurnal - TopicEditingIssues - TopicSociety - 2002-12-11

(correlates: LapisMouse, WebGardening, EvolvedDeceivers, ...)