Perception Is Reality
My father-in-law is fond of saying, “Per- ception is reality,” and I couldn’t help but think about that truism while watching the Green Bay Packers play the Dallas Cowboys in October. Ever since he led the Packers
to a Super Bowl victory in 2011, Aaron Rodgers
has been considered one of the NFL’s elite
quarterbacks, with pinpoint accuracy and de-cision-making skills that are second to none.
Thing is, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t performed
like an elite quarterback since the middle of
the 2015 season. Still, announcers and sports-writers have treated him as such, consistently
prefacing his name with phrases such as “future
Hall of Famer” or “two-time MVP.” While both
phrases are true, neither reflects the player
Rodgers is today. At the Cowboys game where
Rodgers made poor decisions, threw two interceptions, and over- or underthrew his receivers, perception finally caught up with reality,
and it was plain to see for both the fans in the
stands and the sports pundits that Rodgers isn’t
playing like the elite quarterback he once was.
“Perception is reality” might as well also be
the nickname of our annual Streaming Media
Readers’ Choice Awards, which we announce at
this year’s Streaming Media West in Huntington Beach (and which we also present in this
issue on page 79). The other appropriate nickname would be “
The-Editor-Gets-Bombarded-With-Self-Righteous-Complaints Awards,” since
the announcement of the winners is invariably
followed by emails and phone calls from companies who didn’t win questioning the validity
of the results.
I read the emails and listen patiently, then
remind them that, in the end, the Readers’
Choice Awards are, for lack of a better term, a
popularity contest. The results aren’t based on
testing, annual sales, or any other “objective”
criteria. The results are based on readers’ perceptions of how different products and services
compare and fare in the 33 categories. The ones
that readers perceive to be better are the ones
that end up as finalists and runners-up.
Now, we’d never claim that the Readers’
Choice Awards are infallible. Due to an error
by our awards vendor, last year we ended up
with 29 awards plaques with the same compa-
ny name on them. And during the presentation
of our second annual awards, I announced the
wrong winner in front of hundreds of people
and wasn’t able to notify the actual winner un-
til after their moment in the spotlight had been
mistakenly given to one of their competitors.
But we do everything we can to make sure
that we can stand by the results themselves.
We prevent companies from having their em-
ployees stuff the ballot box by disqualifying any
votes from a company email address for that
company’s products. If it’s a popularity contest,
then it at least needs to be one that’s not taint-
ed by something akin to home field advantage.
So if your company didn’t make the cut, it
seems to me that there are two ways to make
sure that doesn’t happen next year, short of
turning the Readers’ Choice Awards into an
“everyone gets a trophy” affair. If you know your
product is rock-solid, you’ve got great customer
feedback, and your sales are up, then perhaps
you have a perception problem and need to
do a better job of getting the word out. Make
sure that media outlets like Streaming Media
are aware of your latest and greatest products
and your biggest customer wins, and get in
touch with us about reviewing your products
or perhaps writing a case study. We can’t cover everything, of course, but we want to make
sure our readers know what’s happening in
Then again, maybe you’ve got a “reality problem,” and your products and services need work.
Perhaps you’ve been resting on your laurels and
aren’t providing your customers with the kind
of quality they could once take for granted. We
can’t necessarily help you there, but we can put
you in touch with people who can.
Now if we could just figure out what’s wrong
with Aaron Rodgers …
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
is editor of Streaming Media, as well as conference chair of
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