Elderblogger Survey - Part 4
This Week in Elder News: 10 May 2008

Elderblogger Survey - Part 5

I learned the hard way why there aren’t more write-in answers offered in professional surveys. One reason is how difficult it is to place them in a reasonable number of categories to make useful graphs. The other reason is the number of messages that instead of answering the question, take the surveyor to task for how the survey is constructed. The Crabby Old Lady in me pitched a minor fit about the second reason:

“Run your own damned survey if you can’t be polite about your critiqueing. Crabby spent several full days creating it, making graphs and sorting answers like yours that didn’t make it easy and screwed with the statistics.

“And to those who wrote in “none of the above” – ahem, that’s what the text box is for: an answer not available in the choices.”

Do I wish I’d asked some questions differently, or supplied other choices. Sure. I learned a lot about what is needed for graphing answers, and a lot about how people answer open questions. Future surveys will be better.

As to the data itself, what stands out for me is elder use of technology. That so many of us taught ourselves to use computers and use so many other modern devices should put to rest the media’s love affair with the idea that elders are technology-phobic or idiots about it.

It helps, no doubt, that we’re an intelligent bunch with a lot of higher education, but I’m not the only elder who went no further than high school who does well with technology – at least when I see a reason for it and it enhances my life. I have no need for Twitter or text-messaging, and I was grateful to give up the interruptions of instant messaging when I left the workforce.

I am surprised at how many live on farms or in rural areas – one-fifth. I didn’t expect that. And I am concerned about the 25 percent living on less than $25,000 a year. I have no mortgage or car payment, carry no other debt and have no costly diseases or conditions, but that cannot be true of everyone in the low-income category, and when I see estimates for the price of heating oil next winter, not to mention sticker shock at the grocery store recently, I wonder how we will manage.

Although I suspected it, I'm disappointed at how white we are. It would be good to have more diverse input as certainly there are assumptions, ideas and nuances about getting old, ageism, politics, healthcare and public policy in regard to aging that we are unaware of and are not considering as we might.

Those are the standout results for me. Now that all the results have been posted, I wonder what your overall impressions are.

As some of you noted (and I appreciate the appreciation), running this survey and preparing it for prime time was a lot of work. I woke suddenly at 2AM Monday morning realizing that I’d screwed up the layout of the graphs for most of the questions including all of them for the first post that day, and spent the next few hours making the fixes. Nevertheless, I enjoyed pulling it together and some ideas for more surveys came to mind while I was doing it.

But I would also like to hear from you. What topics would you like to have surveyed? I’m paying some minor bucks for this polling service so we may as well get our money’s worth, and it’s fun to see what we’re thinking and doing. Plus, I’ve developed some routines now for getting the slog work done and it won’t be so time-consuming in the future.

Thank you all for taking the survey and for your enthusiasm for it.

The ElderBlogger Survey - Part 1
The ElderBlogger Survey - Part 2
The ElderBlogger Survey - Part 3
The Elderblogger Survey - Part 4

[Continuing in the Mother's Day series at The Elder Storytelling Place today, A Mother's Goodbye.]

Comments

Yes, you hit on it, Ronni. Professional researchers avoid open questions if they can because that requires content analysis. Which is not only (as you discovered) very hard to do but, if it is being professionally done, demands another whole procedure (involving several third parties) in order to validate the categories. A pain in the proverbial.
Yet surveys that allow no space for shades of grey drive me nuts. I'm on 2 citizens' panels and am regularly asked to choose a box to tick when none of the boxes fit properly with my experience yet if I don't tick one the software doesn't let me complete the survey - Aaaargh!! So I thought you did a splendid job and the mix of tick-boxes and open questions was exactly right, IMO. Thank you for the survey and for the results, which I found really interesting.

Ronni
Another thank you for the survey and for the results.
Daily I was very aware of all of the hard work and many hours you spent on this.
You are appreciated.

I'm with Marian, you did a great job! Any folks who critiqued oughta be made to run (and analyze!) a survey with LOTS of open questions.

Running another poll might be fun, but maybe with a warning to rude people about not biting the hand that's doing all the work?

For a first extensive survey, you did an amazing job. You are right that it is hard to run the line between open and closed questions. For further surveys you might consider some of the questions in perspective to family and community. Do the children and grandchildren of elder bloggers blog? Do the white elders live in communities that are predominately white? That sort of thing.

Ronni, Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this project. I don't have any complaints about how you did it. The expertise you gained in this endeavor should allow you to address other issues with some of your own polling data. That could prove helpful or at least informative.

The biggest surprise for me in this survey was that you, like me, are a high school graduate and not the alumnus of some ivy league braintrust.

Rich

Hey, Crabby--You had me guffawing. Thanks!

Ronni--You put in one whale of a lot of work! One question that I can think of to explore: do we routinely cross ethnicities in our blog reading? If yes/no, is it a conscious effort & why/why not? (Do we even know the ethnicity of the bloggers that we read?)

Similar questions might be asked about sex and age.

I was surprised at the percentage who reported learning to use a PC on their own as opposed to learning on the job.

In my experience most of us in the age groups and education levels that were reported encountered PC's on our desktops at work well before we made the plunge to buy one for home.

So I am wondering if your readers were very early adopters of home PC's? or did they make employment choices that kept them at home, or somehow out of the typical business office?

bill / prairie point:

An amazing number of companies took a long, long time to switch employees from typewriters to computers. I think that accounts for many who took the plunge on their own at home. It was certainly true for me.

It was an interesting survey and easy to read and see the results as you posted them. Thank you for the work.

Ronni, I am stunned by the amount of time and energy you devoted to the survey. The results were extremely important and help us place our own blogging efforts into perspective. It would have been interesting to learn something about the political views of the elder bloggers. But I assume this would have been a very difficult and sensitive issue to handle. Thanks very much for conducting the survey.

Your survey initiative has done much to build up (by analysis and caring) our reference group. Salud for a most discerning job.

I was surprised by how few guys are into elder-blogging, eh?

as one who encouraged you to take this on: large thank-you and apology. you've done us all a favor with this window into the "community."

left me wondering if we really do as little volunteer work as the survey indicates or whether we need to give credit to some activities--letter-writing for issues, phoning for campaigns--that we write off. or, is it too challenging to find a "fit" between our interests and what's out there?

i'm with Cop Car about ethnicity, a very elusive area. recently started reading theroot.com to get a different perspective.

again, thanks for the effort. i hope this gets added to TGB Features.

Ronnie, there will always be whiners, bawl babies and weenies who never create anything, but once someone else does, the w-bb&weenies start nit-picking. "Why did you do it this way, that way?" Ignore them. I appreciate your findings.

I appreciate your work and the time you took to interpret the results of the survey. I think it is interesting that you drew the line on learning a new technology in exactly the same place that I did - text messaging. I don't Twitter or IM either. I stopped because I didn't have a need to be in that kind of constant contact with anyone. It might be interesting to see whether any of the rest feel the same. Did they draw the line? Where? Why?

Think you did a really good job with this survey as I wrote earlier. Your questions weren't skewed to illicit a specific response as many surveys (especially political) are. Thanks for your time and effort.

I can only reitterate I would wish a more diverse group of readers/commenters/elderbloggers were present among our number. Perhaps as TGB continues to grow, your writing, hopefully, gains even more exposure so more people look for your name, we'll see the diversity many desire here.

The survey was a great idea. I want to add my appreciation for all your hard work to these comments.

Thank you, Ronni, for the hard work and I look forward to being a part of your future research. As for the questions above -- I, too, drew the line at the "instant" stuff. I've been trying out Twitter, but can't seem to get comfortable sharing the minutia of my life. Who would be interested? And as an aside to an observation above...When my first book came out, I did an organizational makeover of the producers' office at Regis and Kathie Lee. When I look at the tape now, it's totally bizarre to see them all typing away on typewriters. Boy have we come a long way in a relatively short period of time!

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