Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Media Crap Index… How do you score your media?

Posted on Saturday, February 13, 2010 by 6 comments

How about this?  Go ahead and score each form of media on your very own Media Crap Index… MCI.

For example, email channels are flooded with spam, some reports put it at 95% of all messages sent.  So, email gets an awful 95% MCI… that is, 95% of email is crap.

But how about other media?  TV… considering all channels, 24/7, including ads… my TV MCI = 95% too.

Radio… well, I’m a picky listener… I find myself drawn to a 95% score again.

Daily local newspaper?  What I actually read (without regret)… better than above… maybe MCI = 80%.

Facebook… oy… sorry “friends”… my MCI = 95% too.

Twitter… I guess I’ve got to get into some better hashtags or something… MCI = 85%

A question… how easy is it to glean out the non-crap portion from these various streams and let the unwelcomed bulk float away from you ASAP?  Spam filtering, when it works, makes email a good fit for me… cutting my email MCI down to about 10%.

But TV and radio?  The best filter for me is abandonment… so I instead stream shows/music online that I want to see/hear… but they still come with ads that don’t appeal… so my streaming MCI might be around 25%… much better.

Print daily newspaper… hard to filter… but I’ve been doing it since my first paper route in second grade… so my custom-built neural filter is well-honed, slicing thru the crap ably.

Facebook… well, to confess my Web 2.0 sins, I haven’t managed well, and now I just don’t have the wherewithal to wade in and pluck the lovely items from frothing stream of… what… I guess my Facebook flow calls to mind a tittering group of junior high girls around someone’s locker before 4th period.  So I don’t know how — and I’m just not motivated to try — to cut my FB MCI below its painful 95% crap level.

Twitter… I know there are ways to filter… to get the noise down… but I just haven’t seen enough value to convince me to build myself a better experience with a tolerable MCI.

Well, now I’ve likely offended several friends and colleagues, and for that I apologize.  I don’t begrudge people their media choices, and I understand that the more popular a media option becomes, the higher its MCI climbs (gotta pay the bills with ads, and you gotta attract the teeming masses).  But the hype around today’s darlings can get overwhelming.  At what point can we start talking about Facebook like reasonable people did about TV in the 1970s and 80s… they watched a few hours of it every night, but drove to work the next morning with a “Kill your TV” bumper sticker proudly displayed.

So, I look forward to better filtering across the board… drive down those MCIs on the super popular choices.  And I’ll keep looking for niches with lower MCI ratings… oh… here’s one… a hand-written letter from a loved one?  MCI = 0%!

P.S.  I reserve the right to change my mind on this.  Educate me, please!

Posted in: Citizen Journalism, Clay Shirky, Facebook, Front Porch Forum, Local Online, Social Networking, Twitter


  1. Mitch Lieberman says:


    As I said on an earlier post, any technology platform is what you make of it. It is not about technology, it is about people. It is not about forcing a viewpoint, it is about giving choice. Let people make their own choices…

    Going through your post…

    So, let’s take Blogs – a well defined platform, like this, that happens to be Web 2.0. It is a very powerful Media, it is searchable, interactive, informative. Where do blogs fit for you? You use it a lot…

    I happen to like Twitter, but I will not push it to people, my goal is to offer another perspective.

    So, to help you get past your angst how about using Twitter, use it like search and only pay attention to @ replies – by your scale about 5% When the hearings were done for Burlington Telecom, live stream of the hearings – not pushing the technology – just offering a choice for people that would like to hear real-time information available on a Web 2.0 channel.

    In terms of MCI – following a hashtag where 3-4 people like Shay Totten and others are the only ones talking is really awesome.

    How about Flickr? Sharing pictures – that is also considered Web 2.0. I really enjoy using pictures to share experiences. For local soccer, the food festival, Kids day – seeing things that were missed. These are all considered media channels.

    Maybe you want to consider thinking about it in terms of push versus pull. Email is a channel that pushes information to people, whether they want it or not. The sea change is that there are a lot of channels which are pull, I choose whether I want to see them or not – this blog for example – I choose to come here.

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks Mitch. Amen… it’s all about choice and using the right tools tweaked just so. Some tools have lots of options, others fewer. Blogs, YouTube and other video sites, Flickr, texting, etc… the list goes on.

    I’m just amazed at our (read “us Web 2.0 people”) general high tolerance for inflated MCI levels. Most YouTube clips that are sent to me with the admonition “you’ve GOT to see this”… are awful. But there’s always a gem in there somewhere.

    And I see the super-fast nature of Twitter having value… but that feature seldom attracts me. I’m not a day trader or someone who benefits from knowing news tidbit hours before the rest of my community… never cared for CNN either. Give me McNeil-Leher at day’s end with some delay and more depth… or tomorrow’s article in the paper of local record. But that’s a personal preference, not any kind of condemnation of Twitter. Obviously CNN appeals to millions of people. (Ed Adrian’s been fun to follow too BTW.)

    Here’s another comment from Steve McIntyre…
    “Is there a formula for this, or are you just estimating crap? And what about viral crap, the crap you didn’t ask for, but checked out based on curiosity that turns out to be….crap? Could that push a medium over the 100% mark, making it a time-suck?”

  3. I am not quite sure I understand the “Amen” comment – maybe others do.

    I find is fascinating that when I ask questions on this type of forum you love to focus on obscure corner cases, and ignore the core suggestions I make.

    I asked where blogs fit into this “Web 2.0 is a bad thing” world. Blogs number 2 or 3 on the Web 2.0 landscape and you are a frequent user of this media/communication platform.

    I asked “would a picture of the lost cat be bad?” – I cannot imagine how that would be bad. Flickr is not a noisy channel, simply sharing pictures. Please, tell me answer me and say that in the lost cat post a link to what the cat looks like would be bad.

    You feel the need to put all Web 2.0 technologies into the same bucket, which would be like putting all TV stations in the same bucket. If you keep lumping them all together, I can see your frustration – how about isolating those that help, and ignoring the others? You have done that in a way by using this blog, and I know you read other blogs – I have seen your posts elsewhere.

    In terms of email and specifically FPF – I do care about my neighbors and I know you get lots of positive feedback and add value to lots of folks. I do, I get it. I said in an earlier post if 50% of signed up users are happy, an unusually high number, I am willing to start there – you are still missing 84% of the market/ neighbors.

    You are making an assumption that I must read every email within FPF, there is no subject line, who is talking, what they are saying. I respect my neighbors, but I would have like the choice to know who is sending what, and choosing whether I want to listen or not. You took the filter away.

  4. Michael says:

    Mitch, I’m surprised at your statement that “Web 2.0 is a bad thing”… I beg to differ. I think it’s fabulous. Indeed, I’ve spent a good chunk of my career in and around the field.

    But I do think it’s noisy and crowded and the amount of junk is growing faster than the amount of good stuff… rendering some channels not-worth-the-effort.

    Of course blogs are part of Web 2.0, as you point out. And good ones are wonderful. There’s a huge percentage of auto-generated junk blogs too though… the equivalent of spam… hunting for search-derived traffic.

    About the lost cat, I’m sorry but I respectfully can’t agree with you that a link to a photo in an FPF posting would be bad. Just the opposite. FPF publishes hundreds of links to other sites (including lost cat photos) every week. Linking is popular and a win-win for all involved. Some prefer a Facebook-type strategy of capturing people and keeping them on one site for everything you can possibly think of. But that’s not FPF’s approach.

  5. Mitch Lieberman says:

    I do not believe Web 2.0 is bad, I was interpreting a quote from you, which I apologize if I misunderstood.

    “Regrettably, much of Web 2.0 now is working in the opposite direction the wall gardens of Facebook, etc. are concentrating the clicks and dollars to fewer and fewer fat cats.”

    Posted 09 Feb 2010 at 8:50 am By Michael

    While it might not appear to be the case, I strongly believe in community. I also believe in working with people to build the best possible product. You excel at asking the current population of FPF what can be done to improve the product.

    We could go back and forth , not just wanted to clear up any misconceptions. My take is that FPF is simply another type of “walled garden” your phrase, but fitting…

  6. Michael says:

    From Greg Sterling’s blog (…
    “As David Berkowitz of 360i says in the AdAge article there’s a lot of “noise” out there now. Friends can be filters or they can contribute to the noise. These days, however, they mostly seem to contribute to the noise.”

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