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12:21pm on Saturday, 6th June, 2009:

Fact Card


I picked up my university mail the other day, and this was among it:

It appears to be some kind of fact card. Maybe the Vice Chancellor mentioned it in an email (I have yet to reach the end of one of his emails before zoning out), or maybe, aware that the entire population of the UK reads QBlog they were hoping I'd blog it for the publicity. Well, if so, it worked. It seems a bit of a waste of cardboard, though — couldn't they have just put the information on a web site? Oh, wait...

Here's the other side:

When you compress information like this, it's very easy to state it in a way that could be misinterpreted. For example, "22 per cent of our research rated as 'world-leading'" means "22% of the research we submitted to the Research Assessment Exercise", which isn't quite the same thing. Similarly, "total staff 1,909" sounds pretty good until you realise that only half of these are academics and the rest are cleaners, cooks, security staff, maintenance workers, administrators and medics who won't give first aid to someone who just gashed their leg. I'm sure that equal numbers of such potential misinterpretations will make the university look bad as well as good, of course.

Quite what the purpose of this card is, I don't know. When I first saw the logo on it, I thought it was going to turn out to be from an innovative card game, or maybe even just inter-departmental Top Trumps; sadly, the university's publicity section doesn't have this kind of imagination, though. Maybe they expect me to carry it around in my wallet so I can pull it out opportunistically at a moment's notice should I find myself sitting next to a famous BBC foreign correspondent for an hour on a bus in Iceland.

Do I want to carry a 100mm by 60mm card around with me?

Hmm, recycling bin it is, then...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).