01.04.2011 07:06 AM

In today’s Sun: Let’s play word games. Or, not.

When you think about Stephen Harper, do you also think “taxes”?

When you consider Michael Ignatieff, does the word “corruption” spring to mind?

How about Jack Layton “in touch”?

Me, neither.


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    Namesake says:

    The blogger I[‘]mpolitical got into this today, too, and noticed that this report was actually a spinoff from an online survey with the same set of respondents whose results were released last month, where they were actually cued with various potential descriptive sentences — which calls into question how “top of mind” it really was. http://urlm.in/gobc

    Plus both he and the Globe & Mail’s independent source (Nelson Wiseman: http://urlm.in/gobb ) point out that these types of surveys tend to be more responsive to the recent news events of the days they were conducted than to the longer term brand awareness they purport to represent. And that week, the construction & other corruption scandals of Quebec & Jean Charest were very much in the news.

    Which may explain why these results were held back from the initial release, and their rather unorthodox release now (it went http://www.nationalnewswatch.com first as an exclusive, which isn’t really a media outlet at all but just a one-man band news aggregator).

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    Paul R Martin says:

    When I think of Harper, I think of the GST tax cut.

    When I think of Ignatieff, I think of his comment “We Americans.”

    When I think of Layton, I think of hot air.

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      Bill says:

      When I think of Harper, I think “I promise no deficits”

      When I think of Harper, I think “If we were going to have a recession, we would have had it by now”

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        Paul R Martin says:

        Obviously, the Liberals think about Harper a lot. Unfortunately, the Liberals have a “resume guy” as head of the party rather than a true leader.

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          Namesake says:

          “the Liberals think about Harper a lot”: hmm, maybe so, but we certainly don’t think a lot of him.

          (Ain’t wordplay fun?! cf. Tom Waites’ “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”)

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    Kasey says:

    When I think of and see the Head of Abacus polling(is it a subsiduary of the one in Texas?) I think of Ezra Levant..they look and talk like twins. Don Martin looked like he was ‘holding back’ in his conversation with the CLOUD MASTER…good for U Warren.

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    Cow says:

    I’ll say here what I said at the Macleans post on this same issue: the methodology is incredibly fishy. Apparently they had some kind of on-line forum with 100,000 Canadians, and randomly chose the 1400 or so from that. No explanation is given as to what forum this was, where the 100,000 Canadians came from, or any kind of regional or other breakdown. It could have been one bot that posted 100,000 answers, for all we know.

    Poll by word-cloud is silly enough, but this whole thing just smells bad.

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    Kirbycairo says:

    It seems to me that you are engaging in a bit of word-play yourself Mr. Kinsella, simply because you don’t like the results. Such a survey is not attempting to demonstrate the reality of the leaders’ actions, but more simply a few people’s impressions of them. When, for example, people replied with the word “corruption” to the name of Ignatieff, the meaning of this reply does not necessarily have anything to do with ‘real’ corruption in which he has been involved. In fact, we can go so far as to say that the real “meaning” of people’s answers are indemonstrable in the survey. This reply regarding Ignatieff could be motivated by anything from the fact that some people still see the ‘old’ LPC in the new leadership to the idea that he gives them the impression of a ‘corrupt’ type of guy. The reply of “taxes” to Harper may imply that they associate him with “higher” taxes or just simply that he talks about taxes a lot. And personally, though I am not a big supporter of Layton, I think simply by his associations he is more “in touch” with the lives of average people than any of the other leaders.

    I agree with your commenters, the methodology here is silly and the entire exercise is media showmanship. But for a guy who makes his living playing the same game and engaging in constant wordplay himself, your criticisms here are a bit rich.

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    Cath says:

    You know what I think is hilarious about this as a news item is that I’ve been playing with Word Clouds for at least two years now. It didn’t appear to me that the mainstream media types understood the Word Cloud program and that in building a Word Cloud one can control colour, size, font, layout etc….and therefore effect the finished product.
    Essentially the person who inputs the words is in control of the finished product. There’s nothing random about the designs being discussed on the political shows last night.

    I think the company that made this news was messing with folks who just don’t know how creative a Word Cloud can be manipulated.

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    Cath says:

    try making a Warren Kinsella Word Cloud here http://www.wordle.net/ and see what I mean.

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    Cath says:

    it’s a cute tool Gord…nothing more. Look for Word Clouds to become the flavour-of-the-next-campaigns and join the ranks of fake icicles, honking big red bows and white wire deer.

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    Northbaytrapper says:

    Couldn’t agree more, well written Warren.

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    Rome says:

    Good article. I, too, think the survey is lame. But, the I
    don’t think Rob Ford got elected on his record. If you ask most of
    his voters what he’s done in the past ten years, you’ll probably
    get one of three answers: “I’m not sure.” “Coach kid’s football.”
    “Run a big business” (which is only partially true). None of which
    have to do with his time as a councillor. People elected him
    because he stayed on message and was the most genuine. Oh, and they
    love being bribed by tax cuts. Back to the survey, I do think Jack
    Layton is an honest man. I’ve met him a couple of times, and found
    him to be quite genuine. I think he’d make decent PM. It’s the rest
    of the NDP that are out of touch. Although, I’d prescribe “out of
    touch” to most politicians, and their wonks.

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