My 15 minutes of fame

In case you didn’t notice it, yesterday I found my 15 minutes of fame when Tuesday’s blog post on the speed of Myki gates was picked by Melbourne newspaper The Age, and I did an short interview during the Drive show on ABC Radio 774. So how did it come about?

My 15 minutes of fame

My piece went online on Tuesday and got plenty of visits thanks to a number of retweets of the link on Twitter (a normal day sees around 150 views of my blog, that day I received over 400). One of the people who noticed the post was Adam Carey, transport reporter and Good Food Guide reviewer at The Age. He got in touch with me on Wednesday, asking me about doing a story referring to my research. I said yes, and he arranged for me to meet a photographer later that day to get a shot to go with the article.

The original plan was to get a photo outside the ticket barriers at Flagstaff station but getting permission from Metro might have been difficult, so we ended up at the northern end of Southern Cross Station, where a bank of Myki barriers face the Bourke Street footbridge. One thing we did notice at the new location was that commuters were trying their best to avoid getting into the photo – the photographer wanted to get passengers streaking past, which he eventually achieved.

The article was published in the Thursday edition of The Age, and when I woke up that morning I was greeted by a number of overnight mentions on Twitter:

I also found in my email inbox interview requests from two breakfast radio programs – Red Symons on ABC 774, and Ross and John on 3AW. By the time I found them, it was already getting late in the morning and I had to get to work, and I was feeling nervous about going on live radio in front of thousands, so gave them a miss. Anyway, by the time I got to work I was already famous – somebody had already sent the link to the Age article around the office, with plenty of people commenting on it.

After getting some work done in the morning, around lunchtime I received another radio interview request, this time via phone for ABC 774 Drive with Gerard Callinan. I ummed and arred about doing it, and considered their option to prerecord a piece, but after program director reassured me they wouldn’t ask any difficult questions of me, I decided I would go live to air.

I ended up waiting on hold for a few minutes beyond my scheduled timeslot of 5.40pm, because the talkback callers before me kept on going on and on, but I eventually got to air. All up my interview went for six minutes, with most of it being me talking – you can find a recording of it below:

Back to work tomorrow, but with one piece of advice for others – if you are going to be featured in the newspaper, make sure you get up early for morning radio!

Further reading

New myki card readers no faster by Adam Carey, The Age, November 15, 2012.


By the end of Thursday night, my blog had reached 1,598 views just from people searching for it – the last time the numbers got that high was in August 2012, when a blog post on my site appeared on the front page of Reddit for a few hours.

And another note

I’ve since been told that The Age comes in two different print editions: the clipping above with the photo is from the Melbourne edition, while my parents in Geelong and a friend in Ballarat both received a copy of the newspaper that lacked it.

Does everywhere outside Melbourne get an earlier edition of the newspaper to allow for the extra transport time? Or does The Age put together a different cut of news that is more relevant to the rest of the state?

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2 Responses to “My 15 minutes of fame”

  1. mich says:

    Hey, congratulations !
    Being a very minor celebrity is better than not being a minor celebrity at all.
    I’d suggest you go and collect some more data on this. There are two hypotheses you want to test. Are the myki barriers better than the hybrid barriers ? And, are the myki barriers improving with time due to mythical tweaking of the software, as they claim ? And how would you distinguish this from improvement in customer swiping technique ? Thats three.
    You need to do this data collection while the hybrid barriers are still in existence.
    What I would suggest, is picking a barrier and timing how long it takes 20 people to walk through. Or maybe 21, if you are measuring the interval between the first person and the 21st person, that’s 20 intervals. In the best case, this will take 60 seconds, and if there is a holdup or the station is not actually busy, it will take longer. Do this a whole bunch of times, and the look at the lower bound of the time for those sequences of people. You can then test for signficance of the difference in what you find.
    Should be an east PhD in that.

    • Marcus says:

      Hi Mich,

      You’re right about minor fame being better than no fame! 😛

      I’m intending have to collect some more data as time goes on – it’s just a pity I didn’t do it a year ago when there were still plenty of Metcard users out in the wild.

      So far I’ve found that measuring passengers at morning peak works best – having long lines of people ready to pass through the barriers gives better results for the minimum times, as you don’t need to take the ‘slack’ time into consideration.

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