There has been some interesting commentary this week in the network of web logs that I frequent comparing the realities of fact and opinion in the world of blogging.
It’s funny how things always seem to align.
I was watching a movie last weekend called State of Play where an old school tried-and-true journalist is teamed up with a fresh-faced young blogger to follow a story. There was a scene at the beginning of the movie where the old dog was growling at the young pup about the difference between fact and opinion and that a blog is simply opinion because there was no way that in the time it took to form the article the so called writer, ergo blogger, had time to check sources and gather the…ahem…facts.
That was 2009. Not that long ago.
Has the opinion about bloggers changed?
Someone wrote (blogged) this week about a company that has developed a computer algorithm that can replace a human writer. So soon? A computer program that will be writing articles based on fact and data to allow more information about business or events or whatever to be published in a quicker manner as an opportunity to distribute information that may otherwise go unheard because of the limits of…well…human resources.
That is a mass generalization of the topic but that’s not the point here.
The blog article, at Spin Sucks, is opinion and it prompted a call from the CEO of the company that is at the forefront of developing that product, namely Narrative Science, who took the time to discuss the intentions of the product with the blogger.
Opinion counts. That’s a fact.
Dictionary.com defines blogging like this:
Blog [blawg] noun, verb, blogged, blogging.
a web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other web sites.
I enjoy reading those folks over at Spin Sucks and they are certainly well read. Having a large audience makes their work influential, for sure. We can only assume they take the time to research their work but no matter how much they do the outcome is always opinion. They take the facts, whatever they may be, and form their opinion about them for their readership to respond. The responses are opinion and generate conversation. That’s one reason why I think it’s so successful. The conversation.
Blogging at its finest.
This post, article, piece or whatever you want to call this thing is not based on anything but my opinion and I consider the hours I spend reading various publications, other blogs and books count, in part, as my research. Well, at least I hope they do. I get it though so please don’t think I don’t. If I want to write about a topic and I want to form my opinion about it I need to back that up with facts otherwise who will believe what I have to say?
Mel Lastman knows (sorry world, inside joke for those Ontarians in my midst).
That’s why we write this blog though. Opinion. Opinion on the design industry and opinion on management and leadership is the basis of the work here and just like dictionary dot com indicates we write from experiences, observations and opinion all based on our personal perceptions. Our experiences are what make us all so different and the nuance between opinions on the same subject comes from that individuality.
Now, how about the fact that goes with an RFP response?
There’s is no room for opinion there, is there? Just the facts, ma-am. Just the facts. There is no room for narrative in the RFP. Who wants to read your opinion on why you think your firm is the right one to hire? In fact, who even reads all the writing that goes into the responses anyway?
The facts and data are all that are required.
That’s it! No feeling, no nuance, no style he say facetiously. It certainly seems that way for the most part. The time and the human resources that we need to devote to forming the facts and data in a way to entice the client, the reader, is the real challenge. I suppose that’s why we create templates and repurpose content. Customization, nuance and style take time and the value proposition is not always something that seems as critical as the bottom line.
Right or wrong? Fact or opinion?
Below are some opinions and facts. Have I got them right? Or am I way off base? What’s your take on what’s fact and what’s opinion?
- Opinion: Most of your clients have no idea what the design process is about.
- Fact: Most design firms don’t spend the time to educate their clients about the design process in their responses.
- Opinion: Repeat clients take less time to reel in.
- Fact: It takes a lot less time to respond to an RFP from a past client; the effort in preparation is greatly reduced and any effort to stand out is usually forgone.
- Opinion: The RFP is the primary source of how most design firms get work.
- Fact: The average win rate of a design RFP varies greatly and is not formulaic therefore an unpredictable metric to plan future revenue.
- Opinion: A successful RFP response is devoid of opinion.
- Fact: A winning response is a nuanced description of ability, relevance, precedent and cost.
- Opinion: Design firms focus more effort on qualifiers to minimize cost than on the content of the submission.
- Fact: Most RFP submissions are weighted. Cost is rarely weighted as heavily as other elements however cost seems to carry the most weight in the decision process regardless of its intended weighting.
So, how did I do?
Hey, I am just having a little fun with the concept of opinion vs fact and I really hope you actually share some of your thoughts in the comments below.
Before you do, think about this.
Is it good to take an altruistic approach to your work when it is clear that the reality of competition bears so heavily on our ability to see the value in creating highly creative responses? If so, and if the response requirements fit a formulaic template time after time should we not outsource the responses to a Narrative Science computer based algorithm to save us time and effort? We could pump out a lot more proposals greatly increasing our chances for success.
Not likely, huh?
It still takes a human to read between the lines and come up with the right approach, nuance or not, regardless of whether the response is purely based on fact and data.
What’s your opinion on that?