Tuesday, November 04, 2008

2008 Winners: FiveThirtyEight.com

If I was someone who gave lots of talks at ed-tech conferences about "Web 2.0" and such, I'd definitely add a piece about the success of FiveThirtyEight.com. Since over three and a half million people visited the site last month (beating out established blogs like Talking Points Memo, for example), there is a pretty good chance you've already seen it.

It is a strong example of the meritocratic side of internet publishing. 538 is essentially three guys, Blogger and some spreadsheets. But they've done more than just analysis, they've gone on the road and done excellent reporting (while the pros waste their (and our) time). The site design is simple (e.g., a blog), but vastly better than directly competing poll analysis sites.

The other thing that people need to be reminded of is that reputation and reliability unfold over time. When a site like this is new you can judge it by their own description of their methods, the quality of the thought and writing, etc. But at the end of the day, you're going to be able to look back and know if they were right or not. That's the most important thing to keep track of. Four years ago, I was reading a lot of Ruy Teixeira's blog. Ruy is a smart fellow, but his theories about why Kerry might pull out a victory left me (and many others) feeling burned. People tend to be over-optimistic about blogs being self-correcting in the short term, but in the longer run, the chances may be better.

Claire Spark Loeb: “The long memory is the most radical idea in America.” That's your "information literacy" lesson for today.

1 comment:

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

Actually, I hadn't heard of this site and it is a GREAT one for our flat classroom students writing about the impact of Web 2.0 on government and politics to cover. This is a GREAT piece and I'm sharing it with the kids (and on my blog) tomorrow.

Thank you for sharing and not assuming that all of us had heard of it.