Saturday, April 28, 2007

"My Telegraph": first impressions from a volunteer guinea pig


The Daily Telegraph is presently in the final stages of testing what it calls "My Telegraph".

Speaking as one of the "guinea pigs" invited to give it a try ( as a result of attending the Blogger's Open House), and to help reveal unforseen bugs in the software , I would describe it as follows in broad brush terms.

Think of it as a kind of halfway house between being a personal blogger, as I am here, talking about the things that interest one, and being an invited blogger on the Telegraph, where the idea is (arguably) to draw responses from the general readership.

In other words, you sign up as a My Telegraph blogger, and you compose and submit blog posts that then appear in time sequence on "My Telegraph".

Beneath your blog, not surprisingly, is a Comments section, similar to the one on main blogs, where folk respond to your tame or outrageous opinions.

But there's a sting in the tail, from which the Telegraph's own journalist bloggers have been spared. It's a faint echo of "Come Dancing" where you are judged on your performance, in the form of two keys : a green button for YES ("I agree wholeheartedly with what you say") , and a red button that says in effect " NO, your views are a real turn-off, don't give up the day job."

In time, an approval/disapproval rating builds up against each of your blog posts.

Sounds awful, wouldn't you say, at first sight, and I expressed my misgivings when Shane Richmond first hinted it at what was in store, and I put his template under the microscope, to have worst misgivings confirmed.

But I refrained from condemning it out of hand, and on reflection,, I 'm maybe glad now that I reserved judgement.

Why ? Well, I have already put up some 5 or 6 posts on the pilot run (sorry, you cannot see them yet). Some have attracted comments, others have not.

It's early days, granted, but over a period of time the feedback, positive or negative, should give one a feel for the things that strike a chord with others, and those which might best be described as personal idiosyncracies.

Speaking as someone who has been at the chalkface of UK and West African secondary schools ("UK sink schools" through bog-standard comp' s to over-subscribed independents) : never knock feedback, from whatever quarter it comes.

As a previous Headmaster at Accra Academy ( Mr. J.K. Okine, himself an ex-pupil of the school) once put it so succinctly at a staff meeting, in reference to those whingeing pupils: "They see us as we really are".

Wise words indeed.

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