Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Picture of the day: How the New York Times defines the wheels we drive

October 20, 2011 - 10:46 AM
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Do these visuals encompass your commute? (Photo:

The New York Times website recently launched a survey from their marketing department to better understand you and offer "personalized product recommendations." The survey presents many questions and lets you choose the image that best represents your feelings. What the New York Times marketing folks are creating is your "visual DNA," so to speak.

Take the first question, for instance. "What would spark a conversation with you?" the survey asks, and presents photos such as a passport, a pretty display of food, dancers, a movie theater, and so on.

And then there's this question featured in the image above: "What kind of wheels do you drive?" I see a truck, a lot of sleek cars, a motorcycle, feet ... all nice. But then wait. Is something missing? Are these wheels all the wheels we drive? Not quite. 

Of course, as D.C.'s director of planning Harriet Tregoning said yesterday at the Rail~Volution transportation conference, the car industry spends $40 billion on advertising. Might that contribute to how the New York Times marketing department definines "the wheels we drive"? To how we casually frame what a commute even is? Yes, I suspect that's a factor.

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