Happy Census Day

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Yesterday was the official deadline for completing the 2011 census.

Filling out my form was quite a nostalgic experience. It took me back to my 18-year-old self, proudly completing my very first census and declaring myself to be a Jedi (shhh – don’t tell).

This time around, it took me approximately 10 minutes to fill in and left me feeling distinctly underwhelmed. The Government has hinted this might be the last survey of its kind and it’s easy to see why. Ten years ago, I had just set up my first Hotmail account and was lumbering a phone of brick-like proportions around with me. The speed of change in the last decade has been anything but linear – instead, technology has hurtled forward unabated and transformed almost every aspect of our daily lives.

For this reason, questions about qualifications, job titles and travel-to-work methods were relevant but hardly revolutionary. Kudos then to Comet’s PR team for releasing a ‘technology census’ at the weekend. The results of this particular study showed that for a whopping 81 per cent of respondents, email is their favourite way to communicate, whilst a third of people stated that the web had supplanted the once mighty TV.

In the UK census, a couple of questions on changing habits of internet use might have been more enlightening than the questions which were being rolled out fifty years ago. I look forward to the glut of press articles dissecting the results of the census and debating what this means for the country. However, shying away from the questions that could reveal the fastest change in society feels like a trick missed. And considering this could be the last of its kind, that’s nothing short of a shame.