This problem of instant virtual gratification cannot be overstated, and we thank Cable and Wireless for bringing it to our attention. Nowhere is it more keenly felt than in newsrooms of both old and new media across the planet. Three out of four editorial staff surveyed had access to an inbox full of survey stories, which has reduced their patience for 'real news' while causing them to demand an always-on, instant source of handy material.
Fortunately for them, worldwide production of surveys is up 34 percent, analysts report, while a survey of analysts shows that they are expected to double in number by 2007. Editors and journalists have welcomed this trend: "If it wasn't for the year-on-year increase in survey stories and analyst predictions," said Phil Page, survey editor for Analyst Survey Week, "we'd have to spend more time in Google than we already do." Phillipa Nother, analyst editor for Survey Analysis World, agreed. "This represents real growth in an already lively sector," she said, "and is especially significant in summer when there's nothing actually happening. The interweb must be fed constantly, or it will turn on us and greedily feast upon our entrails".
Software companies have been quick to identify this new market. Microsoft will shortly release Surveyor, an add-in for Word that tracks survey data as it is published on the Web, patenting all that it finds, while automatically producing a report proving that the more you pay for software the less it actually costs. Red Hat plans to ship Open Analyst, a list of all the numbers between zero and fifty billion in a format that anyone can use to produce survey results at random, while SCO is claiming that since they own the number one, all surveys are merely derivations of that: please send money so they can sue you some more.
Nine out of ten readers said they preferred their vendor surveys with a pinch of salt.