Posted by Ian
"I’ve got six things on my mind," sang Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout, "you’re no longer one of them."
By way of a put-down, it’s one of the best. It’s also, on days like these, an apt description of the plight of a harrassed homepage editor juggling a number of different stories, requests, and expectations. What should deserve the greater attention: Ford selling off Jaguar and Land Rover, Paris Hilton testifying to a behind-bars religious conversion, the prospect of civil war in the Gaza Strip, yet another ruckus in the Big Brother house, why interest rates could rise again next month, or Tony Blair comparing the media to a "feral beast"?
The answer: all and none. Which isn’t much help when, simultaneously, the entire homepage has been rebranded as part of a marketing campaign for Microsoft’s Office 2007 package, and the device we normally use for measuring the amount of people visiting the homepage isn’t working properly.
Conventional wisdom at MSN Towers has been that most people come to the homepage once or twice a week, sometimes even less. I’m inclined, however, to believe otherwise, not least when you consider how many of the same names are now cropping up on the MSN message boards. The way we run the site is predicated upon the notion of updating the lead articles (the ones illustrated by widescreen images at the top of the page) at strict intervals: midnight, 11.30am and 4.30pm. I wonder, though, how many people are aware of this timetable, particularly if they do indeed only look in a few times a week.
I guess routines and rituals are, in part, self-perpetuating: they exist because, if they didn’t, they’d still need to be invented. And they’re certainly useful crutches when running the homepage and trying to prioritise amongst those six things. Truth be told nobody knows how or why people visit any websites, and any attempt to impose logic upon a medium rooted in the illogical and unpredictable can be informed but ultimately arbitrary.
Meanwhile it has just transpired that Bob Woolmer wasn’t murdered after all, and part of a building near Scotland Yard – just round the corner from this office – has just collapsed.
I’ve got six things on my mind, and this blog is no longer one of them…