Jack Nissen · Uncategorized

For Election Results so Close, only the Fastest will do

It seems that an application that increased the refresh period from 60 seconds down to 15 has dramatically changed the way the rest of the world watched the results tally up from Iowa.

“The Globe’s tweets linking to the app pulled in about 10 times the traffic that the Globe normally gets to article pages via Twitter.” – Laura Hazard Owen of the Nieman Lab

Did it really just take a 45 second reduction in waiting for a publication to experience ten times the amount of clicks they’re used to getting? Or was there a complete redesign of the interface? Are there sound effects of an elephant or donkey that go off when a candidate earned another delegate? Ooh! What about if your phone screen blew red or blue confetti when the winner of each party was selected!

I’d argue gimmicks really didn’t play much of a role in the apps rise to popularity. It really may just revolve around a quickening of the refresh time. In a society clawing for every bit of information, ready to engulf any breaking news with the swipe of a finger, punctuality proves to be a strong asset.

An article put out in 2013 by the Boston Globe actually states:

“The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives, and not just virtually. Retailers are jumping into same-day delivery services. Smartphone apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date, or a table at a hot restaurant. Movies and TV shows begin streaming in seconds.” – Christopher Muther

This article titled “Instant Gratification is making us perpetually impatient,” while even being written three years ago (doesn’t that seem like ages?), still holds true, if not only reinforcing a trend we already believe.

We want things now. If an internet page takes longer than a few seconds to load, then we spend that precious time fuming about how the world moves to slow for us.

Ramesh Sitaraman, a computer science professor at UMass Amherst, conducted a study on the viewing habits of 6.7 million internet users. The results he found? Users begin finding themselves impatient after two seconds of waiting. That’s about as long as it took you to read the previous sentence.

“After that they start abandoning,” Sitaraman said. “After five seconds, the abandonment rate is 25 percent. When you get 10 seconds, half are gone.”

All of us have appreciated gratification in a delivery form as fast as we can make it. But with a vessel such as the internet, our expectations have been raised to new heights, with the same frustration building on itself. Which is why a refresh period 4 times as fast becoming so damn popular begins to make sense.

As a user, someone will be taking advantage of an application that delivers the best service. It only makes sense that one moving at this pace would cater to the needs of the impatient. Now quantify that with an election race by the likes of which we have never seen and it begins to make even more sense.

The democratic caucus was close. It was so close that SNL managed to spoof it with the losing candidate directing the skit. With the difference in voting getting as close as .02 percent, the fastest updates will only due for those desiring the results.

It’s wise for the Boston Globe to continue this trend. Matt Karolian, the Globes social media director, said “It proved out that the direction we’re heading is probably the right one.” I’d argue ‘no duh,’ as anything it seems in the media world that works the fastest will be ‘probably heading in the right direction.’

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