Perfection on the Web


I have always disliked vox populi stories, also known by journalists as “man on the street,” “MOS” or “POS.” Vox populi ambushes individuals in a public place and asks for their snap opinion. These stories lack meaningful insight, deceptively present a impression of statistically validated opinion, and are largely unmemorable. Vox populi is a staple of journalistic storytelling because it is easy and cheap to do.

I have been thinking about how to improve the vox populi story to make it less lazy, slightly more meaningful and more memorable. The bar of quality is set low, so it should be easy for technology to improve.

In 2012, I tried a concept to improve vox populi stories by downloading the top 10 videos on YouTube and Vimeo about a topic. The videos are ranked based on an algorithm of user preferences, which is slightly more objective than a reporter stopping people on the street. The videos were recut into a single sequence to show the “web” opinion on a topic.