Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who creates those surveys, anyway?

I just finished the California Public Libraries Survey that my local library system had on its website. This is a state-wide survey, as evident from both the title and the list of geographical areas available in a drop-down menu at the "where is the library you go to " question.

Based on a couple of questions, including the last one, (had I heard of some named online live reference site -- the name escapes me and I can't get back into the survey,) its main aim seems to be to determine an interest in 24/7 online reference access.

Given that interest, you would think it might include a question asking if web access is available in the home, but no, it didn't. In fact, one question assumed you had internet access in your home. I think the surveyors missed a chance to get some information on home-based web access, by geographical area, age, and income, all info asked for by the survey.

The question that seriously annoyed me, however, had to do with what type of material one uses when one visits the library. It had a lengthy list, including fiction, non-fiction, magazines/newspapers/articles, and various specific categories of non-fiction, plus ebooks and electronic databases. So far, so good. However, the respondent could only choose one. What? The surveyors apparently think that persons going to a library go only for one purpose -- no mixing picking up the latest mystery and looking for consumer info. (Which, in any event, was not a category.)

Hence my question: who writes those surveys?

I answered the question on types of materials used by choosing "other," which had a box into which one could enter something, so I entered "why can't I choose more than one thing? Now the surveyors know who writes those answers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mutterings, Witterings, and Random Thoughts (oh my)

Today's (March 24) San Francisco Chronicle has an article in the Technology and Business Section titled "The Best Affordable Cars," with the subtitle "A few quality components make these autos the ones for budget shoppers to get." The prices for the four featured cars were $16,375, $21,200, $26,325, and $30,000. Ok, the first one is a low price these days, but just what budget do the buyers of a $30K car have?

Are super delegates at the Democratic convention a retro touch? As far as I can figure out, they are a throwback to the smoke-filled rooms of past conventions, when primary votes didn't count for anything. Super delegates can apparently vote for anyone, regardless of how their state or congressional district voted. Ok, I'm willing to let Bill Clinton, a super delegate because he's a past Democratic president, vote for Hillary: NY voted for her anyway, I think, but even if it hadn't, what's the point of having a husband if he won't vote for you in the convention. But otherwise I'm not keen on super delegates.

I recently succumbed to an offer in the mail of a subscription to Time magazine for a period about a century or so, for only $20. I regretted it about a week later when I got a similar offer from Newsweek, which I preferred to Time the last time I read either. Then I really regretted it when I got my first issue. It's a mixture of CNN's homepage and People magazine. I'm too lazy to cancel, so I'll put up with it, but I am certainly not going to renew, should I happen to outlive the subscription period. I already subscribe to The Economist for real news, so I can't complain too much.

And speaking of The Economist, it's a great example of technology: the issue I receive on Friday can include articles and cover stories on events that happened on Tuesday or Wednesday of the same week. Of course, that timeliness can be enticing to others: the first issue after Hurricane Katrina hit was delayed in delivery about three weeks, which I attribute to those in the delivery chain taking time to read it.

The title of this post is an amalgam of Larie R. King's use of "mutterings" and the use of "wittering" (maybe only as a verb, however) in Bridget Jones' Diary.