What has technology done to trivia?!

What has technology done to trivia?!


So earlier this week I was at a Dunkin Donuts picking up a cup of coffee and they’re running the promotion where they have the little peel-off trivia cards on their coffee cups and since I love trivia, it was a nice morning bonus!  I peeled mine off and took a pretty educated guess – because, I had no real idea when the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were introduced – but I was right and won a donut.  (it’s 1972, just FYI)  Now my coffee cohort took a different approach and refused to guess.  He said he likes to scratch off the prize first and then if it’s good, look up the answer on the internet to ensure he gets it right.  WHAT IS THAT?!  First it’s multiple choice and second, all you’re winning is a donut, a muffin or if you’re really lucky a breakfast sandwich!  It’s not like there is a yacht hiding under the prize space – and if there is, I totally approve of their technique.  But since there isn’t a yacht, wouldn’t those freebies taste better if you guessed — or better yet knew — the correct answer?!  It kind of makes you feel like you earned that Bavarian Kreme.

DunkinNow, I’m sure Dunkin Donuts doesn’t care if people look up the correct answer on the internet, because odds are they’re going to purchase something beyond the free donut when they return to collect it (if they return).  And odds are pretty good that these players already are Dunkin Donuts customers (hence the reason they have a trivia question in the first place).  But doesn’t looking it up the answer just kill the whole “trivia” concept?  Trivia is supposed to be little random tidbits of information that are fun or interesting.  You’re not supposed to know the answer and if you do, there’s that bit of excitement that you actually have something so obscure and useless floating around in your brain!

Similarly, I was on a road trip a couple years ago and we got into talking about oldies music trivia – and there was one person in the car that kept looking up the answer on their iPhone.  Eventually we had to tell them to stop because everyone enjoyed discussing when a song was done – or who sang it first.  The iPhone addict just couldn’t understand why we would want to discuss something for 10 minutes it when the answer could be found online in less than two.

So my question is, has the instant gratification provided by smartphones and the internet killed the concept of trivia?  Is there no longer a need to take an “educated guess” since the answer is just a couple keystrokes away?  Think about what trivia was like 30 years ago when Trivial Pursuit came out – you’d have to go to the library to look up answers to bizarre questions like the one on the Dunkin Donuts cup.   So now that the answers are at our fingertips, does that make it less relevant?  Or conversely – because the answers are one trip to Wikipedia away, are people more interested in useless factoids and questions?  What do you think?  How do you think technology has affected the world of trivia?

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  1. Paul

    Sure, using technology gives you a quick way to find the answer, BUT I feel that searching for the answer –however fast or slow it may be–allows better retention of the information. So I feel that looking up the answer IS making me work for my donuts darn it! Either way, I shouldn’t be eating them! Ha!

  2. Scott

    I tend to believe that the notion of trivia is a sign of the times, and as such the nature of trivia changes as our lives and our technology change. While trivia may once have been the hallmark of bookish recluses, sports fanatics, and opinionated uncles, now it is freely available to everyone with just the push of a button. The internet and smart phones haven’t killed trivia – they’ve just made it available to the masses. And as with any change, there is a chance for growth if you are willing to embrace it. Can you imagine a new version of Trivial Pursuit that encourages the use of the internet and smart phones? The mechanics of the game may have to be tweaked a bit, and the rules may have to be modified here and there, but I don’t think it’s completely outside the realm of possibility.

    Personally, I’ve also become fascinated by just how trivial trivia can actually be. I became addicted to KGB after their Super Bowl commercial, and it quickly became apparent that KGB is nothing more than a way to pay someone else one dollar to Google something for you. That was entertaining enough for a few days, but then I invented what I like to call KGB Roulette. There are questions that KGB decides are too trivial to spend time pursuing, and so they’ll text you back to let you know that there will be no charge. Now I try to think of questions that will stump them – it’s free if I’m right, but I lose a dollar if I’m wrong. The moral of the story is that even in today’s googling, wikiing, texting, tweeting world, there is still trivia to be found (or not found, as the case may be).

  3. David

    Personally, I’d be happy for technology to kill the idea of trivia. I’m with your friend on the iPhone. What’s the point of spending time arguing over a fact that can easily be resolved with references?

  4. Amy

    I tend to believe that the notion of trivia is a sign of the times, and as such the nature of trivia changes as our lives and our technology change. While trivia may once have been the hallmark of bookish recluses, sports fanatics, and opinionated uncles, now it is freely available to everyone with just the push of a button. The internet and smart phones haven’t killed trivia – they’ve just made it available to the masses. And as with any change, there is a chance for growth if you are willing to embrace it. Can you imagine a new version of Trivial Pursuit that encourages the use of the internet and smart phones? The mechanics of the game may have to be tweaked a bit, and the rules may have to be modified here and there, but I don’t think it’s completely outside the realm of possibility.

    Personally, I’ve also become fascinated by just how trivial trivia can actually be. I became addicted to KGB after their Super Bowl commercial, and it quickly became apparent that KGB is nothing more than a way to pay someone else one dollar to Google something for you. That was entertaining enough for a few days, but then I invented what I like to call KGB Roulette. There are questions that KGB decides are too trivial to spend time pursuing, and so they’ll text you back to let you know that there will be no charge. Now I try to think of questions that will stump them – it’s free if I’m right, but I lose a dollar if I’m wrong. The moral of the story is that even in today’s googling, wikiing, texting, tweeting world, there is still trivia to be found (or not found, as the case may be).

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