Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Non-expertly experting.

Yesterday I was asked to appear on Richard & Judy for a discussion about youtube. I agreed to do it. Normally I'd put something up here in advance of that kind of thing, but I didn't have time yesterday as I spent the day whizzing around town talking to various journalists about the impending DVD release of Are You Dave Gorman?

Anyway, I was going to write a few words to explain why I agreed to take part but then I realised I'd already done so. What follows is an entry I wrote back in August last year... simply swap the word youtube for the word blogging and you've got a pretty good explanation down already. �

One of the things that I find odd about my work is that when I do a show in which I demonstrate my lack of expertise in a field, people then start to treat me like an expert. I still regularly receive e-mails from strangers that ask me if I can help them track down a long-lost friend or similar because Are You Dave Gorman? has convinced them that I'm some kind of brilliant person-hunter. I would have thought that anyone who'd watched the show or read the book would understand that I was no expert.

Similarly, when my Important Astrology Experiment was on air I started getting asked questions about star-signs that were entirely irrelevant. I distnctly remember one journalist asking me to tell her what Librans were supposed to be like and when I told her I didn't have the first idea she basically said, "Well why on earth do you think you can present a series about astrolgy then?" It wasn't really worth explaining that I wasn't presenting-a-series-about-astrology but instead telling-a-story-about-something-I'd-experienced. She'd been sent a tape of the show.

Since my Googlewhack Adventure has taken over as thing-I-get-asked-about-most-often I seem to have been filed away on some kind of TV research database as man-who-knows-about-the-internet. I don't especially and again, anyone who'd seen the show or read the book would understand that there's nothing about it that makes a claim to any expertise.

But that doesn't stop the phone from ringing every time there's an internet-related news story someone wants to discuss on TV. If Google's shares suddenly shoot up (or down) in price the phone rings and someone is inviting me to appear on a news programme to discuss it. I always refuse these invites because I don't really have an opinion and even if I did I don't really see how it would be a) more informed than anyone else's or b) relevant to the story.

For this reason I was a little sceptical when my agent rang to ask me if I was interested in taking part in a discussion about blogging and almost said an automatic 'no' in reply. I'm not an expert in the field, and I know nothing about the technology either.

But then two magic words were used. Richard and Judy. They are such genuinely lovely company that there is little I won't do for R&J.�

When the researcher called me to ask about my youtube use, one of the things I mentioned was that I really liked Adam Buxton's stuff. I think Adam is brilliant and that his use of youtube is really exciting... really I was thinking that they should have asked Adam to appear and not me because he really does know about it.

As I mentioned it I was a bit worried that I might be grassing him up in a way because amongst his brilliant youtube bits is this very funny redubbing of an R&J You Say, We Pay clip. (Maybe not safe for work, by the way.) On balance the chances of them not knowing about the clip when researching an item like that were pretty slim and the chances of them being annoyed by it and demanding it be taken down were even slimmer so I didn't worry too much.

In the end, when I turned up I was delighted to see that they'd invited Adam on to talk about it as well. Also there were a couple who have recently had a bit of a youtube hit with a video clip of their wedding day first dance; a secretly rehearsed Dirty Dancing routine. They were very nice too.

Of course if you want to talk about youtube on telly you have to show some clips and by the time we got to the discussion they'd found loads of good ones (including a cleaned up version of Adam's R&JYSWP bit) and so really all we had to do was laugh at floating dogs and men on rollerskates. Fun. �

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