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Planet Earth

Keep That Hive Mind Buzzing

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerMay 12, 2009 9:37 AM


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Thanks to everyone who's voted so far on the cover for The Tangled Bank. As of Monday evening, 641 people have voted. That's not a focus group--it's a focus army. If you haven't voted yet, please do--I'll check in from time to time to see how the pie slices morph. The results are interesting. A whale cover (Whale1) is in the lead, with 22% of the vote. Wasp1 comes in second (21%), and Tiktaalik1 (18%) comes in third. Clearly, no huge conquests in this poll. But if you tally up the covers by beast, the ranking flips. Combined, All the Tiktaalik covers got 38% of the vote, the wasps got 35%, and the whales got 28%. I'm sure there are all sorts of psychological artefacts at play here, but I'm still intrigued at how all-over-the-board the results are. Fortunately, many of you were also ready to share opinions about the covers, including some who were not satisfied with any of them. (I neglected to add a "None of the above" choice.) A number of people complained that the covers don't speak to the title, "The Tangled Bank," which is a phrase Darwin uses in his marvelous close of The Origin of Species, when he writes of the diversity into which life has evolved. The tricky thing about pictures that convey diversity is that they can sink into visual incoherence. That's the last thing you want on a cover. But I hear you, and I'm going to work more on this with my publisher.

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