UK Media’s wood for the trees – karaoke and class envy more interesting than waste

The debacle that is the London Olympics ticketing saga rolls on. The much-hyped ‘online swop system’ for unwanted tickets, promised to restore some sanity to proceedings. This being 2012 Britain, it did not of course. The system crashed spectacularly on its first day. At first a trickle and then most of the UK media picked up on this national disgrace. Well sorta.

Within two days, a few emollient grumblings from LOCOG, fingering contractor Ticketmaster for the blame had the UK’s‘newshounds’ off the scent. No explanation about why the error had occurred, why no one had thought to test the systems sufficiently before the fanfare of puffery at its launch and in fact no inkling of when the site, publicly-funded at an unnamed cost, would perform the task it was commissioned to do.

A clear case of Technical Debt (the fully to-be expected issues caused by inadequate attention to code quality)? Technical Debt, despite its links to several major systems failures recently, is just not a story the UK press feels ready, or perhaps, able to tell. Until it brings down a bank, airline or another smartphone company.

By contrast, the draconian EU data privacy directive was bound to be of interest to the UK media. After all, it has far-reaching cost implications for every UK business. Sure enough the Google News article count rose from 157 two days before the announcement (mostly a reprise of the sabre-rattling ahead of the announcement) to more than 300 as it was leaked at the overblown DLD conference and north of 450 on the day of its actual announcement (now plateaued at around 800).

As diligent Trendsurfers, naturally we were ahead of the game positioning knowledgeable technology clients as commentators on the largest shake-up of citizen’s privacy for 18 years. Our efforts paid off and we were soon contacted by several newsgatherers, including excitingly, a national broadcaster. We prepped our spokespeople for the limelight with enough facts and figures to fill an hour-long bulletin and were excited to talk to the researcher just ahead of broadcast. He told us not to bother, the story had been ‘bumped’ for another.

What could possibly rival an explanation of an additional business tax on every European business? Er, a story about whether babies would be charged for entering Olympic stadiums or not. Was there any mention about the IT blackout, which had continued unreported for two weeks? Course not.

We are not really whining. That’s life in the uphill struggle with the UK media give technology the public scrutiny it deserves. As experience B2B pros, we understand the status quo. Tech is difficult and less glamorous than sports, Westminster politics or Karaoke TV. However, we choose not to accept it.

The national scandal is, poor technology costs us taxpayers billions. So boring or not, perhaps it deserves more airtime. As one timid LOCOG official attempted to claim, it should be ‘reputationally critical’ for suppliers. Perhaps if only it were, in the way that legal, some would say, proportionate, Banker’s bonuses seem to be, we could waste less money on tech that does not work.

What do you think? Politico handbagging and karaoke singing more important news than wasted taxes? Add a comment.



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