Goggle Blog

06 January 2005
Tackling the BBC II

As regular readers will know one of my mini-obsessions is tackling the BBC.  Having been going all around the Wrekin on this one this week I am beginning to reach some conclusions.

But I’ll begin with a re-cap.  My criticism of Biased BBC is that it doesn’t scrutinise enough broadcast content. The reason is that there is nothing to link to.  Therefore, we have to create our own linkables.

This is what I have been trying to do recently.  Not particularly successfully, sadly.

There have been two problems with my approach.  The first is that I have insisted on one post per item.  The idea was that commenters would be able to comment on the specific bit of the broadcast they wanted to.  The problem is that this is too difficult in a live situation.  Often it is difficult to know when one item ends and another begins.  It also tends to take the anchor out of the equation.  There’s plenty they say that makes the eyeballs roll.

The second is that live blogging (or at least me doing live blogging) doesn’t really shift the goods.  Quotations have got to be spot on. Often in a live broadcast I miss things or forget the last few words of a sentence.  And if I am concentrating on listening and typing I can’t concentrate on the pictures.  What all this is leading too (apart from the need for a better blogger) is the need for a recording and and a second viewing.  Which, in turn, implies a delay between transmission and posting.  Not ideal but I think it’s the best approach.

01 January 2005
Live Blogging Trial

A few weeks ago I described how one might monitor the BBC a bit more effectively.  The other night I gave it a go and you can see the results here.

I’m not entirely happy about it.  For starters, it looks a bit of a mess.  It does so because posts are in chronological order, in other words the exact opposite of the blog standard.

It is a gut feeling that separate items must have separate postings (in order to generate relevant comments) and that they must be in chronological order.  It has to be earliest first because that it is the earliest items in a broadcast that are the most important.

The problem is that you end up with the announcement that some live blogging is to take place at the top.  Announcements like this, of course, have to be in reverse chronological order and that means that announcements and live blogging sections have to appear in different places.  For the time being, at least, I can make announcements of up-coming live blogging sessions here leaving BBC Watch (or what it ends up being called) for just the programmes.

There are a few other things I am not happy about:

  • Obviously parts of the sidebar will have to be sorted out - it’s a direct lift from here.
  • I don’t like permalinks etc appearing on the same line as the title - as they do in many cases.
  • I think broadcasts do need an introduction but perhaps it should also be a summary.  “Overview” perhaps.  And it should also include some summary information: anchorman, whether the broadcast was any good etc.
  • I am not happy about the categorisation

There are also questions about how to live blog.  I can’t write it all down.  Well, I could.  I could write out a whole transcript but that would be hard work and anyway, would it be all that valuable?  When it comes to a TV report the important thing is not the actual words but the impression it leaves.  Which first, words or pictures?  I think the words are what we have to go for for the most part.  But even that might not be that important.  The important thing is not necessarily the quality of the hooks but the fact that they exist at all.  It gives people a focus for comment which is what is currently lacking.

Anyway, what I am going to do is to see if I can sort this out technically and then, having done that, have another go a live blogging probably sometime next week.

Incidentally, if any readers do wish to comment on any of the items you are more than welcome to but just be warned that this blog is pre-production and posts may well get deleted.

Update As you’ve probably noticed several things have already changed.  I’ve had a go at the sidebar.  I’ve also had a go at the categorisation which I am still not happy about.

10 December 2004
Tackling the BBC

I think the BBC is the worst organisation on the planet.  Trashy, trivial, dull, pompous, ignorant, smug, expensive and, oh yeah, lest we forget, biased.  All of which would be just fine if wasn’t for the fact that it also reaches into millions of people’s living rooms each day.

So, with the net we finally have the chance to have a go at it.  It is not as if we haven’t tried.  Along with a few others I set up Biased BBC.  Now, with over 1,000 hits a day it would be difficult to describe B-BBC as a failure but I feel it is.  It concentrates too much on web-based rather than broadcast content and too much on certain, specific topics ie Iraq and Israel and when it does cover broadcast content it rarely covers anything I have actually watched.

There are two problems.  The first is that with broadcast content there is nothing to link to.  There’s no transcript, or if there is, it’s hard to find or comes out far too late.  The second is that the BBC’s output is vast.  To comprehensively criticise its coverage would probably take an army of 100s, all regularly writing.  In other words far more than a group blog could comfortably manage.

Here’s a possible solution:

  1. New blog
  2. New entry for every BBC programme
  3. New entry for every item on a BBC news programme
  4. Invite readers to comment/send trackbacks
First problem: every programme?  Even Changing Rooms?  Could clog the blog and there’s also the question of keeping it going.  Somehow it has to be cut down.  Just news and current affairs?  What about documentaries?  What about Top Gear?

Every news item?  Even sport?  Well, you just never know where and when the trashiness is going to raise its ugly head.  And here there are even greater problems in keeping it up to date.  It probably requires a team.  For a one man operation it would really restrict you to those programmes you know in advance you are going to watch live.  And then there is the question of keeping readers informed as to what programmes you are going to cover.  But I think I have the answer to that.  EE has the facility to make posts sticky ie they stay at the top of the page.  That could be a good way of advertising things.

It occurs to me that it doesn’t have to be covered live or, rather, in real time.  But if the head blogger is going to write up a list of items then he has to tell people when he’s going to do it.  Obviously, real time is best.

And will people comment and trackback?  Now, there’s a question.  It is essential that they do.  Monitoring even one BBC programme is, I believe, beyond the capabilities of one person.  And there’s no way you can assemble the team in advance - you don’t know what is going to come up.  But getting people to give feedback depends on things like critical mass and persistence.  But nothing ventured nothing gained, as they say.