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Originally published in Silo print edn. December 2011. It’s dangerous to pick winners. Everyone knows that and yet it’s difficult to not put your stamp, your intuition and your ego into choosing a winner. Heck, some folks even make a decent living out of it. They’re called critics and advertising executives and sometimes they’re known as a marketing committee.
But just for a moment let’s consider what it means to be in a position of influence- your very thoughts and words will ripple out and possibly affect opinion, access to resources and ultimately success or failure. Choosing winners should be done with the utmost caution. (Does anyone remember Dewey defeats Truman? Okay that is a bit obscure….what about the story of The Beatles being rejected by the first batch of record labels they approached? “Sorry, Lads- You’ll never make it in the music industry”). This holds true for social media and the internet- no one and I repeat NO ONE should be promulgating ‘accepted and preferred methods of blogging, tweeting, linking et al. After all, censorship is just another form of propaganda and that’s bad right?
The internet is perhaps the last true vestige of individuality, of a digital ‘Wild, Wild West’, of a digital ‘Gold Rush’. Choosing winners is not always a bad idea if it’s done without malintent. It’s a great form of entertainment (Dave’s Top10 list) and conversation and debate (Top 10 universities in Canada) but when a list is garnered based on subjective criteria (“Sorry, Lads- You’ll never make it in the music industry”)- one must question the motivation and prevent ‘cronyism’.