The curse of the EPG

Electronic program guides (EPG) provide users of television, radio, and other media applications with continuously updated menus displaying broadcast programming or scheduling information for current and upcoming programming.

Phil: If you think that grabbing the reader attention at the start of a novel is tough, imaging the challenge that television programme makers face now we are in the era of digital television. With you potential viewers using EPGs to decided what to watch next, the programme title is crucial. Those few characters have got to sell the content.

This is why TV programmes have rubbish titles now. The first stop for any titler is to see if there is a celebrity presenting the thing. If there is then bung that name in the title. Hence we have “Ian Hislop’s Stiff Upper Lip – An Emotional History of Britain”, which in the world of the EPG will be reduced to “Ian Hislop’s Stiff Upper Lip”.  Likewise, BBC3 has “Cherry Healey: How to Get a Life”. I’ve no idea who Cherry Healey is or where she came from but in the same way local newspapers like to stuff their pages with faces, programme titles like a name. Any name.

If this doesn’t work then try for something that sums the content up in as few words as possible – The boy whose face fell off – for example. No mystery, plenty of titillation.

This isn’t easy. On-line we’ve been coping with trying to sell websites in less character than Google puts up in the search results. If your page title is “Home page” then, as the kids say, Epic Fail. I once caught someone on a site I was looking after stuff titles with code numbers to make the pages easy to find in the content management system. I locked him in a cupboard without food and water for a week for this crime.

“Why are you thinking about this Parker?”, I hear you cry.

Well, it’s all down to our last post. Once it had gone live on the blog, both Candice and I shared it with our friends on Facebook. Sadly, my sentence “Grammar nazis are everywhere and there’s nothing the pedants like more than arguing over the semantics of your words rather than wasting time reading and comprehending them.” was shortened.

Thanks to the law of unintended consequences, the pedants were arguing over something entirely different:

I wonder if it encouraged anyone to come to our site!

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