The BBC and Yammer

Lucy Hooberman writes about the BBC’s new use of messaging/micro-blogging platform Yammer to improve communication across the organisation outside of email.

She’s absolutely right. It is very useful. It appeals to my inner-Utopian view of the BBC: All BBC staff are equal; you never know who could be the next radio/TV/web producer.

Those of us in need of radio/TV/web producers rely on such social networking tools. We are shameless. We leave no stone unturned and insodoing annoy all and sundry in pursuit of our dreams.

Given that reasonably mediocre confession, it should come as no surprise that whenever I interact with Yammer on the BBC network I’m nearly always convinced that I’ve missed the point of it.

I use it to shamelessly pedal my poor attempt at fluff and so-called wit in the hope that people across the organisation might feasibly see a potential use for my skills.

There’s a simple analogy: throw as much paint at the wall and you’re sure to see that some of it sticks.

Only last week, a copy of BBC rag Ariel in my hands, chortling uncontrollably to myself, I penned a posting for my BBC network blog dedicated to gently ridiculing an associate who had appeared in the publication talking through his favourite wardrobe.

Typically smug at the resulting how-ever-many-hundred-words which shared my recent successes in finding the best supporting underwear I’ve worn in a long time, I immediately went to Yammer and fired off a smarmy “call-to-action” *.

“Who wants to read about my pants?” was the submission. I was certain people would flock to the resulting missive as a result.

Feedback was mixed, all of it concise.

The subject of the ridiculing blog post (not left as a comment, I hasten to add) was flattering: “I *really* enjoyed that blog posting”, he messaged me.

The online editor of said BBC rag was predictable after which came an anonymous posting: “Why do we have to waste our time reading this?” **

If ever there was a timely reminder about the BBC it’s how the Corporation is embracing it’s new communication tool.

Don’t get me wrong. Yammer is a very useful tool. It brings people together in a way which can only be to the benefit of the various different disciplines who adopt it.

But like any playground or pub or trendy wine bar, there are rules of engagement. Advice is simple: Be sure to familiarise yourself with them before you jump in without a care. Don’t do what I always do and assume that the way to people’s hearts is to make them snigger. It’s a sure fire way of guaranteeing a frosty response.

* That’s what they’re called in the multiplatform business.

** Or words to that effect.

Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum

Whatshisname, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum today to see the Cold War Modern exhibition. Good stuff. Contrary to the sneery man I overheard complaining he felt the exhibition had lost it’s thread part way through, I really liked it – especially the space stuff.

After a brief toilet break, there was just enough time to assess the catering facilities. A special review of the Garden Cafe here.

Happy Birthday Blue Peter

It’s the 50th anniversary of the BBC’s children’s “magazine” programme Blue Peter today. Unlike a lot of contemporaries I wasn’t a fan of rival Magpie, instead warming to the charms of Lesley Judd and latterly Janet Ellis.

However, observing all the online references to this most British of British institutions I couldn’t help but reach for my video camera to file this very special report.

Aside from my obvious bitterness at not having realised my dream of being a Blue Peter presenter myself, I was quite excited to see this on BBC iPlayer, including some present day footage of Lesley Judd who I haven’t seen on TV for twenty odd years.

TV: Graham Norton Show (4.2 : 10 October 2008)

Better looking in, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

I resisted watching the Graham Norton Show when it returned for it’s fourth series a couple of weeks ago. I’m normally a stalwart fan. This series I found it difficult to immerse myself in it. I suspect it has something to do with work and not being quite as involved as I have been previously.

However, it appeared that the Sky+ box had other ideas and recorded the thing anyway. Consequently I ended up watching the Graham Norton Show Uncut (4.2 : 10 October 2008) featuring crazy Cyndi Lauper and adorable Jennifer Saunders.

Lots of entertaining fluff between Lauper, Saunders and Norton (the section featuring the focus group was unexpectedly fun) and confirmation from Saunders that Fox really are going to remake Absolutely Fabulous in the US. Unlike what Variety were saying on 6 October, Saunders says she won’t be involved in the production process.

Programme information available here.

Rory Cellan-Jones on Mark Zuckerberg

Lovely Rory Cellan-Jones posts a video interview he conducted with Facebook Maestro Mark Zuckerberg on the BBC blog. I wouldn’t normally pour over Mr Cellan-Jones’ blog but seeing as the BBC Internet Blog people are linking to me I figured it would be the Thoroughly Good thing to do to to consume a few more BBC Blogs.

Actually, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m some kind of fawning individual. After all, I work at the BBC. Constantly banging on about the Corporation in every other blog posting might seem like I’m selling out. It doesn’t need me to blog about it. And, quite apart from anything else, I’m paid to do something entirely different anyway.

I am digressing. It’s a terrible, shameful habit.

There is, in fact, a far more important reason why I’m reading Mr Cellan-Jones’ blog. It’s because of something my 70+ mother said of the technology programme Click Online on the BBC News channel.

“Oh yes,” she said excitedly on the phone to me this morning as I tried to explain in layman’s terms about internet blogs and why I was updating mine on holiday, “I know all about blogs, my dear. I watch that Click programme.”

I was a little surprised, I have to confess. My mother – a former newsagent and pillar of the local community – has never logged on to the internet for anything, ever. How would she know about blogs if she doesn’t use the internet?

My sense of surprise was quickly replaced by pride before the inevitable and now familiar feelings of bitterness and resentment poured over me like a thick sauce.

“You know the presenter of Click?” I asked her, keen not to sound as though I was flagging up a crass moment, “His name’s Spencer, isn’t it?” 

“Yes, that’s right” replied my mother, “he’s called Spencer.”

“I often see him on the tube on my way into work, you know.” I said with a certain amount of low-key pride.

“You don’t like him, do you?” asked my mother.

So, given that my mother watches Click on BBC News and understands about blogging, I figure the least I can do is consume Mr Cellan-Jones’ latest blog about Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg is someone I assume I wouldn’t like. He is, after all, the bain of my relatively limited technical project management life. I know only from personal experience the sinking feeling which results when people suddenly leap on the “Let’s have a Facebook application” bandwagon. “If we build it, they will come.”

And yet as a user (and a heavy one at that, I freely admit) I find myself intensely irritated by the spamming and the monitoring and the targeted advertising (if you look at my profile you’ll see I’m married and thus won’t be interested in dating gay men from San Francisco dressed only in a rubber thong). No, I don’t want to compare my friends. No I don’t want to comment on which one of my male friends is hot or not. There’s a simple reason for this. My husband is one of my friends. Why would I want him to have proof that I’m window shopping? How is that going to help my social networking?

Obviously, Zuckerberg isn’t ultimately responsible for the different creative ways various developers have exploited the Facebook platform. Zuckerberg isn’t entirely at fault. The genius which emerges from the Zuckerberg-Facebook story is that the skeleton has been laid out for others to graft on to. He’s established a global brand and, like all well-known global brands, maybe it’s best he doesn’t always think about the profits.

In fact, when I stop to consider the other potential causes for my irritation with him – the fact that he’s a billionaire (on paper, at least), if not business minded then certainly now media-savvy and the fact he’s only 24 years old – I still find myself unable to sustain the bile I would normally have about people like him.

Somewhere in the middle of the 3’28”, Zuckerberg shows himself as a nice guy. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he shows himself as the geek we all of us reckon he must have been if we believe the Facebook development story.

Facebook and (by extension Zuckerberg) is both a wonderful thing and a dark thing. The one thing you can’t dispense with even though you’d like to sometimes.

Of course, I could be wrong. I could be playing into the hands of the media-savvy people who prepared him (if indeed they did) before his interview with Uncle Rory. I have to keep an open mind. I have to remain reasonably impartial.

Maybe Mr Zuckerberg should do a few more interviews, just so I can be sure.