Sunday, July 03, 2005

Double your fun

Hi, I’m Robin. I think I’ll write something about binary systems. Other than the two-sentence description on my blog “1 or 2” and occasional comments there, this will be the first thing I’ve written about binary systems on the internet.

I’m attached to the 1 or 2 blog’s structure. Though the comments pages have elaborated on the ratings and discussed 1 or 2 a few times, the front pages are clean and skeletal. So I’m more comfortable editorializing on 1 or 2 here, where it is less relevant.

The 1 or 2 system originated as a fast way to get someone’s opinion on a difficult subject. Movies and people were commonly 1 or 2ed. It was and is most useful, I think, when asking someone their opinion of a mutual acquaintance. Giving someone a 1 might be harsh, but then, if the evaluator’s opinion of the person isn’t glowing, it’s hard for him to give a 2, too. If you just asked for an open-ended opinion, you would too often hear “he’s interesting, I guess” or “she’s nice.” Similarly, a request for a rating on the 10-point scale would often get you a 5. Though 1 or 2 is, due to the huge ground each rating covers, inherently vague and crude, it can provide a richer assessment than an open-ended or finer-scaled answer.

Before long, other, sillier binary systems developed around 1 or 2. We could ask whether someone or something was a lover or fighter, a man’s man or ladies’ man, or, my favorite, a steer or a queer. My friend Chase (right) would reinvent the quintessential public policy approach of “carrot or stick” as a binary system, posing questions like “You’re hungry. Carrot or stick?” or “You’re trying to start a fire. Carrot or stick?” or “Your pen pal is in the hospital. Carrot or stick?” and so on.

I’m not sure that 1 or 2 has the same entertainment value online as it has in real life. On a blog, the most exciting entries tend to be the controversial ones, those likely falling between the 40th and 60th percentiles. When people are hanging out and merrily 1 or 2ing the night away (we don’t do this anymore, but we used to), those close ones are tense and exciting, but the most fun ones are the most obvious ones: those that would get a 1 or 10 on a 10-point scale, but with 1 or 2, just get a loud or enunciated 1 or 2 to emphasize their deficit or abundance of merit.

So 1 or 2 the blog might be near or at its end. It might be more sustainable if tied to my personal goings-on, as I tried on March 18, but then I’ve always tried to keep it random. It may have simply run its course. C’est la blogs.

1 comment:

david said...

I think 1 or 2 should continue forever.