Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Unpaid Worker of Our Time

"We strive for quality development and would be happy if you after your phone call could answer to a few questions. This will only take three minutes" - more often than not, I get to hear this when I talk to my phone company Telenor, or some agency.

I am now and then selected as a unique individual, among other unique individuals, to participate in surveys. My voice is important! This is a careful reminder!

Some museums and shops have questionnaires at the exit. In Helsinki: would you like to fill it in? As a thank you, here are four big postcards to choose from.

I am sure that analysts from an enterprise answering the same questions would easily charge 1,000-4,000 €.

Or even better: fill this in and you CAN win a cinema ticket!

There are beta testers as well. It is fun to be the first with the latest, for sure, and they help to improve the user friendliness and ameliorate the interface. But they do it for free.

Answering to questions, sharing our opinions on and perceptions of a service, an agency - it all has grown lately and asks for a service I am not always willing to give (but when I do and they don't, who is there to listen?).

And today I read on one of major Swedish newspaper's website that survey agencies struggle with having people answering their questions. I understand why. As early as about seven years ago, before the surveys started becoming overwhelming, I received two forms that I remember particularly well. One was from SCB, the governmental survey institute in Sweden, asking me about my computer habits. I had to sit down and think about something I usually didn't think of at the time, so from that perspective it was actually developing for my personality. But it was very time-consuming (roughly 15 pages), eventually boring, and I gave it up. The other survey was made by a private company, aiming to understand the wants and needs of the people when it was time for the (my) city to grow. I found it alarmingly personal and I began to question the actual use of my answers. Now, in 2016, multiply my discontent and the number of forms by about ten. If not ten - then MANY. We are then approaching a parallel to why voting numbers in Switzerland are so low, which is the result of having to vote too often.

Mayhaps giving feedback will be the most natural thing in a near future. So nicely integrated with the phone call or the service you use that you barely even notice - most of the content is recorded "for developing reasons" anyway. The resuts will be carefully collected and make life easier for everyone! Maybe the feedback finally will be seen as a service willingly offered by the citizen herself, and she will be funded, at least in cents, for each participation. But right now this is not how it works. As a proof of that, I still at times have the urge to contribute with my opinions - but they do not always fit into the questionnaire, because those kinds questions were not even posed. And I am the one who pays - with my time, and with a dose of frustration.

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