Mr Blue Sky and the Bob Warman Effect
Dull, insipid, lifeless; you can see why the powers that be thought Coldplay would be an ideal fit for the way that Birmingham City have been playing recently.
But to remove 'Mr Blue Sky', and 'The Tamperer' from the playlist at St Andrews as the teams were coming out last night ("to revive recent flagging fortunes" speculated the Telegraph) shows very little understanding of how people are attached to our own bits of history.
ELO's 'Mr Blue Sky' has been a St Andrews staple for years, and has with a loop of 'The Tamperer' (in fact a sample from The Jackson Five's 'Can You Feel It') been clapped along with gusto by fans for over a decade. My personal memories are all based around quickening my step between pub and main stand as the "dum dun dun" bit started up and breaking into sight of the pitch as it reached the bit where the clapping started.
This stuff is important, a while ago I was researching a book based on how songs and football were so linked, and how - for example - mobile DJs have to know that in certain areas playing 'The Liquidator' will do nothing but cause trouble. The taut ska classic has been played a Black Country football grounds for years, with accompanying "earthy" lyrics, it's even been banned on Police advice. While looking I dug up council minutes discussing it, which beats the apostrophe meanderings Cllr Mullaney brought to our attention as a waste of valuable meeting time.
Almost all music gets divided up by these tribal lines, and it's important to be aware of how it affects people. It doesn't take long for a tune to become "our song", even if the "our" is 20,000 football fans.
But as an organisation, you can't force it. Whoever, and I'm expecting it to be quite high-up, decided to change the run-out music just doesn't understand it. That they also decided to pipe a snatch of UB40 through the weedy (they've admitted it's not good enough) PA when we scored shows they have no idea how the fans' minds work.
There I was jumping up and down in sweet relief, only to be distracted by a cracking of Ali Campbell. Football fans might not always be roaring the team on, but come a goal there will be noise - tannoy "celebrations" are not needed.
If you're attempting to build communities, especially online where they can be left at the click of a mouse, you have to be very aware of the feelings of the people. Facebook recentley changed it's terms or service - they were complex legalese anyway but the consensus was that the new ones gave them too many rights over users' content - and the users were revolting. And finally got them changed back.
But it's not just campaigning against stuff, people will use online communities however it suits them, it evolves and as a host (if it's your space) all you can do is nudge, lead by example, or take your ball home. I attended a talk by Heather Champ of Flickr at the Hello Digital event in Brum last year where she revealed that one of the first uses of the photo-sharing site's mapping feature was for someone to place photos across Greenland spelling out a very Anglo-Saxon word. The online world even calls this sort of thing "time to penis" - the time between setting up a tool and someone using it to draw a willy.
Closer to home, and less rude, a quick blog post about ITV job cuts (not this recent round) on Birmingham: It's Not Shit seems to have become the place where disgruntled Central News viewers gather (75+ comments so far). First they talked about how much they missed Bob Warman (who was off ill), but the debate has moved on to how much they like or dislike the coverage in general.
That's made me think two things: first, if I was Central News I'd be monitoring the tread to see what the CN "community" was thinking, secondly that people will gather, and use stuff just exactly how they want to. I'm thinking of christening this 'The Bob Warman Effect', although that may be too parochial to gain widespread acceptance.
So if you're attempting to think about how your organisation uses it's online spaces, or how it should monitor others, be aware of your very own 'Bob Warman Effect', and be aware that whatever you make it's not possible to control how people use it. And don't attach Coldplay to it in any way whatsoever.