26 May 2006

Newsflash: The BBC Has Not Been (completely) Taken Over By Mindless Droids

I was, rather embarrassingly, a virgin working at the BBC back when Terry Wogan did his not-very-famous-at-all-actually sketch about the dance of the BBC virgins on the roof of Television Centre, that giant seventies-looking question mark (no really, go aerial) in the middle of White City.

I say middle, but White City seems to be a back end to something or other, all on its own. Any roads or pubs local to Shepherds Bush willing to claim White City as their back-end please, well, please just keep very, very quiet about it. OK?

The sketch was all about no virgins showing up because there weren't any.

I was offended.

Which probably explains why I still was one.

Contrary to popular opinion the cybermen didn't retire from earlier series of Dr Who and go on to replace every level of staff at the 'dear old beeb' aka 'aunty'.*

How do I know this? because the BBC are blogging, and badly at that.

*Whoever coined those phrases was a propoganda genius, albeit possibly an evil one. Wogan again, wasn't it? It could have been his cyberman doppelganger. The terms instantly characterise this giant corporation with its multiple levels of bureaucracy as some dear old duck in the corner, slightly drunk, slightly incontinent, very dotty, but well meaning and lovable and liable to still be singing 'Knees up Mother Brown' when she's wheeled back to the home.

Badly can be good. Badly can be human. 'Badly' can say that the writer, whether a nobody or a famed and feted face, is actually (even if secretly) just like you and me. Three things are certain in this life, and one of them is "doing a poo", to quote my dear but scatalogically obsessed friend Scaryduck.

Badly as in with humour, desperation or the odd spelling mistake says "Hey I'm not [insert name of superhero], I go to the crapper just like you. And sometimes I smell bad."

Then there's bad badly, which only goes to prove that I need to work on my vocabulary. There's badly as in boringly, flatly, devoid of colour, personality, too short on allegories, metaphors or even just pictures.

Somehow the BBC's new comedy blog has single-handedly managed both; sorry Steve. It smacks of good people fettered to a formula, a remit to 'go out there and relate to bloggers, make them like us, but don't stop wearing the suit and keep writing it like a press release'. I think the quiet statement at the top of the page mentioning a 'the comedy team' might be a giveaway. Too many cooks, perhaps?

I suppose that representing a corporation, you speak on behalf of said corp, ergo may not under any circumstances express an opinion.

There was one early attempt at appealing to the bloGrz (or however the educationally deprived teens spell it today), with an article ending in a kazillion exclamation marks. It was like putting a big pink bow on Bernard Manning in a bad mood. A good effort, but; no. Obviously a wee touch of conflicting vision, there; it went all serious again straight afterward.

What have they got left to make a small section of a serious corporate website look like a blog?
  • Daily updating - ptah - the main site updates constantly anyway so in this case that's no selling point
  • Room for comments - no the comedy blog team have decided against. This is IDIOTIC. The blog sense of community can only be compared to a major city (say London) in a blackout - everyone is on a level, everyone feels welcome to chip in and voice an opinion, mostly politely, to whatever stranger they come across and everyone goes away from the experience feeling validated by these tiny, mostly shallow pleasantries and exchanges. This is why the word 'community' was first used and then stuck like glue. If you don't allow comments, you set yourself apart. Neil Gaiman just about gets away with it apparently because he is both famed and accepted to be a very busy man (he blogs a lot about how busy he is), but even that makes me fight an urge to assume he's a bit up himself. Sorry Neil. (SEE EDIT)
  • Trackback list - nope. Daft as above
  • Similar links list, of the variety used by sites which take themselves seriously, such as Technorati (see Newsweek). Not even the humble, commoners version, WhoLinksToMe. Feh.
All in all then, of all the BBC blogs, the comedy one is the odd one out, the one that isn't actually a blog at all, which makes me wonder whether the powers holding sway over that one are at all chummy with the 'head of interactive' who, says Newsnight Editor Peter Barron, in his latest daily 'by subscription' email, thinks "99% of all blogs, including some of the corporation's, are crap".**

I just don't understand how 'one' equates to 'some', unless he and I differ on what consitutes fecal matter, or there are some long lunches being enjoyed.

To be fair, the rest (if they appeal to your interests), whilst having very similar layouts, are human, humorous, honest, and encourage comments. I've bookmarked Paul Mason's Newsnight blog, not because I even watch the programme (I don't, usually) but because its a good blog. ** Peter's daily emails would also make an excellent blog, although I guess that would conflict.

Just to prove I am stalwartly contrary, or human (or something biological and carbon based anyway) I refuse yet again to use the inverse pyramid model and to get the summary of this post in at the top, to stop scrollers and hook their interest. I'm not a fame hound or a pseudo-journalist (liar liar liar!) and I don't give a hoot, scrollers can scroll off.

However, if you have ploughed through thus far, then the revelation which generated this foamy chemical residue spewing from my brain is:

Tonight, Newsnight on UK BBC TV is doing a spot on bloggers and blogging.

That's it. I am trying to work out whether to feel like a family member who has just found out that little Johnny's face will appear in a commercial for 5 seconds some time tonight, get the popcorn in and grab the comfy cushion early by way of celebration; or whether to blink stupidly and be somewhat dismissive about how these big companies are so slow on the uptake, even the ones that are supposed to be at the forefront of whatever it is they do.

I think I'll have to watch, to work that one out.

EDIT: Mr Gaiman's blog has 2,588 subscribers, just on bloglines and I have no idea how many on the more popular blogrolling, or other systems. I kind of hoped the link would send one or two new visitors over to look, but also expected it to disappear amongst millions leading to his site and never be spotted. Silly me. I now have my claim to fame, hehe, a comment from a prolific and famed (and very busy) author. Wow. I've gone all fluffy. Its quite scary to be noticed by your heroes. Off to splash my face with cold water and slap it around a bit.


She Weevil said...

Thank-you for that. I am a bit of a plodder, or rather I am now thta I'm in to my severalth glass of wine. I read it right through and everything. I usually do watch Newsnight and will definitely make a point of trying to stay awake all the way through until Newsnight Review or even afterwards.
I was definitely avirgin at the time although I didn't work for the beeb and the only virgin I was actually aware of was probably Mary.

Off to watch Newsnight.

Two Stops To Action Town said...

>Which probably explains why I still was one.
[cough! splutter! tries to think of things to say and has to retract each one]

Neil said...

Ah, but my blog started in early 2001, and we didn't have clever things like blogger comments back then. And it seemed to work, so I've never bothered changing it. It's not that I have anything against comments, I just like it the way it is.

Badaunt said...

Corporate blogs are usually bad, because of the schizophrenia you mention (is this a blog or a press release?). So far there has only been one that I read daily, and it has finished. That was the Washington Post's Turin Olympics one by Dan Steinberg. They seemed to give him a fairly free run on it, and it was funny and informative. Also, comments and trackback were on, and while there were no links in the sidebars that probably wasn't such a lack, considering it was temporary anyway.

Shame he didn't keep it going, really.

Cheryl said...

Dear She, I believe I have 2 or 3 years on you - a big difference to striplings between 0 and 25

Neil Gaiman! I got a comment from Neil Gaiman! Squeeeeeeeeal!!!!

Dear Neil - honoured, but worried thats a serious reply to a fripperous remark of mine. I write as I live: a) badly and b) with my tongue firmly wedged in my cheek, or somewhere. All links are good, yes?

Two stops - have we met? Would that be Turning Green or Squealing Boredway?

Cheryl said...

Badaunt - hi!
Should have known this revelation of mine was old news to someone I admire.
Hey ho!

She Weevil said...

But where was their article? I watched and watched. Congrats on that comment.

Cheryl said...

Me too, with matchsticks holding my eyes open.
Paxman-ed to the hilt and beyond.
I wonder what today's email will say after the no-show and I wonder what it did to viewing figures.
Very annoying.

zilla said...

Oh, that Neil guy is cute! [insert more vapid thoughts here] :-D

ME Strauss said...

I read this days ago on BE and wanted to comment, but couldn't. Then it took me this long to get back -- my bad. I'm with Zilla. he sure is cute. Too bad he still won't open his comments . . . he's missing what blogging is all about anyway no matter what he says or how cute he is. Cute doesn't make up for "you listen to me, but I don't have to listen back." :)