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Blog refreshes aren’t such a bad thing

March 16, 2009

The BBC Internet Blog has refreshed its page templates. Hardly breaking news really. They completed the rollout of their shiny new stretchy template on Friday afternoon (as far as I could make out).

I knew it was coming. Only a week or so ago I chaired a meeting attended by a variety of self-confessed geeks, one of whom bashed out the URL for the BBC Comedy Blog on the computer in front of us. “What do you think of that?” he beamed as numerous pairs of eyes focussed in on the image projected on the wall. “This is the standard template we’ll be rolling out across the entire blogs network. Look at those lovely widgets at the bottom of the page!”

They were lovely widgets, it couldn’t be denied. “And when will you be rolling out the new template for the BBC Internet blog?” I asked.

“Soon.” came the reply.

I smiled politely and turned to my notebook, quickly scribbling down an aide memoire. I needed to create an alert in my Google Calendar. The day would be noteworthy.

It was noteworthy, or rather, the weekend was as a result. Not since my exit from last week’s mid-week school reunion (yet to be written up but worthy of a read when it has been), have I felt more a palpable sense of smug self-satisfaction. The rollout of the new BBC Internet blog template has been a wonderful thing.

Why? My name has come of the links to BBC staff bloggers, that’s why.

Even I find it bizarre that I’m actually saying that out loud.

Links are, after all, the key to the internet. I was reminded of that at Blogging College last week. The more links you get the higher your Google ranking. Not only that, to get your name in a list of a BBC staff bloggers on a page with a BBC logo on it is the kind of free PR noone should really sniff at.

And I haven’t really. I was rather touched when I was on holiday in Turkey, looking at the blog and noticing some unexpected incoming links from the BBC. When I discovered my name listed a weird sense of compulsion kicked in. I had shifted up a gear. I had to think a bit more carefully about what I was writing. There was another outlet. There was a substation. I was being “relayed”.

I wasn’t being relayed, of course. It was just a link. The internet is full of links. And just because I go to the BBC Internet Blog homepage every single day to check my name still appears on that list (and to read the occasional blog posting) doesn’t mean that everyone else in the world does. Quite a lot of other people have quite a lot of other things they need to get done during their working day, after all.

But now that’s all changed. The new stretchier templates have been rolled out and the BBC staff bloggers are no more. At least, they’re not at the time of writing.

I bet you’re thinking I’m pissed off about it, that I’ve been tossing or turning all night, certain this is all part of one great masterplan to silence me and in so doing proving yet again that I still think the world revolves around me.

Actually no. You’d be wrong. I’ve had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages. I’m ready to face the week with renewed vigour. Why? Because I’m not linked on that page.

Sometimes knowing that your name doesn’t appear on a page on the BBC reclaims a bit more freedom. Even with a disclaimer on your blog you can’t get away from the fact that you are who are you and you work for who you do. And sometimes when the more obvious link is removed, you get a little bit of your own personality back. And for those who struggle with personality from time to time, that can be quite a good thing.

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