Ten Miles Square


May 25, 2012 4:01 PM Political Opinion with Blinkin’ Lights

By Keith Humphreys

David Frum makes some excellent points in this video op-ed, which is accompanied like many such pieces with flashy, ever-changing graphics. I have some doubts that this is an effective method of communication for complex ideas.

Clearly, the parade of images holds the eye and at some level entertains, but my suspicion is that if you interviewed viewers afterwards, their memory of the actual content of what Frum said would be lower than if he had simply talked, or limited himself to a few static charts/graphics at key points (and BTW: what is wrong with so many people that listening to cogent political analysis for 217 seconds without blinkin’ lights embedded is beyond their attentional capacity?).

h/t: Andrew Sullivan

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based community]

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.


  • Crissa on May 27, 2012 5:00 PM:

    What would you have him do? Stand on a literal soap box in a public square, hoping to reach 300,000,000 people?

    From the publication of Common Sense to today, new technology and distribution have always been used to move politcal messages. How rich to complain of a visual aid while publishing on a web page and blog and newsletter with instant feedback of someone employing the simple art of sequential images.

  • Tom Parmenter on May 28, 2012 6:41 PM:

    Frum so effectively telegraphed his punches that I was able to absorb his entire message in the first 25 seconds, saving me 3 minutes and and 22 seconds.

    As for the graphics, they were unobtrusive and tasteful, 'internet-style' animations that illustrate without illuminating. I clicked on this story thinking it would be about the typical television political coverage, with Roman-drums-and-trumpets, flying red-white-and-blue streaks. Breaking! Iowa Caucuses Cacusing!

    Frum is something of a looker as such folks go and I take this video as evidence he is still working hard on his Brooksian future after his great escape from the right-wing ghetto.