No hiding place

Continuing with the Likely Lads theme from my earlier post one of the most famous episodes is a great example of how much technology has changed our lives in a single generation.

No hiding place was filmed roundabout  the year I was born (1976) and the lads set out to avoid finding out the score of an England game, so they can watch the TV highlights later that night.

Part of the joke is that this should be a relatively easy task to achieve because England are playing in far away Bulgaria and in the 1970s they didn’t have Sky Sports, iPhones or rolling news.

This episode would never work today of course – the ubiquity of football coverage, our insatiable appetite for new ways of getting information and the sheer variety of platforms would make avoiding the result a near impossibility.

There really is no hiding place in the information age.

To avoid getting the score delivered automatically I’d have to turn off my dedicated iphone app, stay away from rolling news channels, close my eyes as I pass the giant screen at the station, stay out of any pub, keep my laptop turned off, not listen to the car radio and most importantly log out of all social media.

Just like in Bob in Terry’s time people are dying to share information (especially about football) and now there are more opportunities to do that than ever before thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

These exciting new tools also bring loads of challenges though as I’ve found out at work. While we’ve done some really exciting stuff with social media in Northumberland to help share information with our residents and tourists, these things also provide a stern test to organisations (see here for more).

There’s a cumulative effect because the more you do on these channels the more you raise customers expectations of fast answers and a 24 hour service. Because of the nature of the public sector and some of the specific services we provide this isn’t always possible or desirable.

There are also key issues around privacy – I would say that my biggest concern for the future is how we will all manage our own personal privacy on sites like Facebook. My daughter is now five and I worry about the sort of online landscape that she could face in the next ten years.

At the same time though these technologies are so exciting and have moved so fast that we are all lucky to be living in a time when so many opportunities are being created.

Terry would be appalled at how social media encourages the global community:  “To tell you the truth I don’t much like anyone outside this town. And there aren’t many families down our street that I can stand”.

In the 35 years since the episode first screened, Bob and Terry could never have imagined the huge technical and social strides we’ve made and all the new ways we’ve come up with to ruin football highlights everywhere.

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