All Aboard the “Word Train”

The Times' election-day gimmick is puzzling, oddly mesmerizing

It's lots of fun watching all the big news outlets fall over each other and themselves as they try to be the go-to place to get all your election '08-related news. More experts! Different experts! Better graphics! Real-time results! Realer-time results! But even though the day is far from over, we're giving the CNN Award for Most Pointless Yet Transfixing Election-Themed Gimmick (named for the debate graph doohickey the 24-hour news net used during broadcast of October 3's presidential debate - you know, the one generated by undecided voters twiddling a dial to communicate how red or blue they were feeling at the candidates' responses) to the usually-more-sober-than-this New York Times for their Word Train.

Over at this link, the Times asks, "What word describes your current state of mind?" You either select a word from a drop-down of candidates ("hopeful," "proud" and "jittery" are popular) or you enter a new word (this is where things get fun - may we suggest "incontinent"? Or go Dada with something like "orange"?) and - theoretically - your word should choo-choo its way into the system within an hour (talk about your instant gratification!), a time-lapse no doubt instituted by the paper so unpaid J-school interns editors are able to weed out infantile responses like "orange." Things get even weirder with tabs where you can see the two "trains" generated by Obama and McCain supporters - displayed, optometrist-chart style, in red or blue.

Go ahead! Hop aboard the Word Train!

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