31 Oct 2007
As I mentioned yesterday, we were lucky enough to have Graham Holliday, Jeff Jarvis, Adriana Cronin-Lukasand Hemma and Lee from Headshift join us at the BBC for an afternoon discussion about the BBC’s blogs and their future. The BBC’s Technology Correspondent, Rory Celland-Jones, lent his interviewing skills and kicked things off with a discussion with Jeff and Graham. We later, as you do at these sort of things, broken into smaller discussions where we talked about which BBC people should blog for the BBC, what skills are required, what our current platform can and can’t do, how we might measure success (or failure), etc. It’s all part of a review we’re doing to help us improve our blogs, both technically and editorially, moving forward.
Jeff was interested in the metrics we’ve been using to analyse our blogs, the behaviour of our bloggers and commenters, etc:
“… it started off with Hemma Kocher of Headshift sharing lessons from a study of the Beeb’s blogs. The numbers aren’t final, so I won’t share them. But I was fascinated with what they studied: how many posts — and how many per blogger — on how many blogs at what average length with how many comments and how many links to BBC sites and to the world outside.”
The BBC’s Director of Global News, Richard Sambrook, who blogs inside the firewall, on at least one of the BBC News blogs and on his personal blog SacredFacts, summed things up at the end:
“There’s no better way to understand the huge changes sweeping the media than getting your hands dirty online. It’s fallen to us to reinvent the industry and we won’t do it with heads in either the sand or the clouds…“
Jeff, Adriana, Rory and myself later enjoyed a “snazzy dinner”, to quote Jeff, thrown by Yahoo. To be honest I’m not entirely sure what Yahoo was trying to get out of the event, but there was at least one point in the evening where I wished I’d had my microphone, in particular this moment, as described by Jeff Jarvis:
“BBC tech correspondent Rory Celland-Jones asked pointedly whether Yahoo knows it has missed out and it is just slapping the social label on its rhetoric to try to catch up. One of the Yahoo execs tried to insist that the internet is still “at a very early stage” (read: Google has not won yet, he wishes)
After the meal – probably too late to be bringing elephants into the room – I decided to ask if Yahoo might be worried about a backlash from users when people start to realise that the reason Yahoo, google and others are interested in social media isn’t just because they want to give us cool toys to play with but because the data generated when we use their services helps them better target ads. I realise that companies have to make money but I also think that users should be able to see exactly what data is being collected about them, what it’s being used for, and who is using it. In effect, a way for users to very easily obtain the information that they’re entitled to under the Data Protection Act. Yahoo’s agency person reckons I’m a bit paranoid, and said as much, but Yahoo’s Duncan Watts seemed more sympathetic. I tossed him the idea of Yahoo doing a revenue share with users, the more data you let them collect and share, the more you earn from it. Not only is it a much more transparent approach but also an interesting way to get people to, quite willingly, pass Yahoo even more useful usage data.
As a user of just about every Yahoo service there is, with Yahoo DataSense I’d soon be able to splurge on stuff like this £210 ($420) shot of Richard Hennessey spotted in the bar at the venue where Yahoo held it’s dinner.