538 vs. THE WORM

Nate at 538 just posted his critique of the CNN Worm. I actually tend to agree with him that the social proof of the worm reacting would probably have a similar affect as a laugh track: getting the at home audience to respond differently than if they had been watching without. And it’s also true that the size of the sample for the worm isn’t really representative like polls are… I still liked watching the worm though. I think it made the debate more fun…but is fun something that we should be watching those debates for? Are the debates supposed to cross the boundry into entertainment?

The Worm and the scoreboards take the debate into sports territory. Frankly, that’s fine by me. Whatever they have to do to get more people watching and more people interested.

How entertaining is the worm, honestly? Is it getting a spinoff show? A movie deal? Is it doing a book tour? Whether or not it makes you enjoy the debate more (and I don’t see why it would), I’m sure you could find something even more entertaining than that somewhere on TV. So I’m not too worried about this aspect of it.

I agree that 30 people is too small a group. I also think it’s alot better than 5 on air pundits. The worm and other instant polls puts a damper on pundits just going with their partisan leanings. Easy solution increase the sample size to 500.

The Worm does not approve of this thread.

All you have to do is look at how the worm is referenced in the quarter to three debate threads to see how entertaining it is. Maybe that’s (again) not a great sample of the public at large, but I definitely think that the worm had a place at the table. And I wish it had a movie deal. that would be awesome.

Maybe instead of a room of 30 people, they should have 30 people in isolation chambers.

I think it’s an interesting idea in theory, but as stated, to be anything more than entertainment they need a much larger sample. It does seem popular though, so I’m sure we’ll start seeing more elaborate setups in a few years.

Personally I think they should take a few hundred people and put them in MRI machines to watch the debate. Then we get a panel of experts to tell us what they were really thinking at each point in the debate. :)

They really could just do away with the people entirely. The worm could be generated easily by a few simple rules, with some randomization. When republican mentions taxes, redworm+50, yellowworm+30, blueworm-30; when democrat speaks redworm-50, yelloworm +0, blueworm+30; etc. Add in random jitter and spikes and troughs. It’d take some rounds of testing, but you could get a worm that would pass the Turing test easily by the 2012 presidential debates, if not much sooner. (It may have already happened. We are through the looking glass.)