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Some times the internet fails. Or people…

I’ve just spent a rather damp morning in Cannon Hill Park at the Water for Life festival that is taking place all day.  I knew nothing about this until my housemate, a Trustee for the charity LUCIA who was exhibiting, asked me to go along.  So now that I’m back and dried off I wanted to know whether I’d simply missed all of the marketing for this, save an advert in the oft missed Ads pages in Friday’s Metro, or whether it was another case of Birmingham failing to advertise the things that happen in the city.

I’ve searched for the festival using the festival’s title and then again adding Birmingham to the search field.  Rather than list everything, I made a table, which noted the top five results when I searched.

Search result Water for Life festival Water for Life festival Birmingham
First www.lifebywater.com www.livebrum.co.uk
Second www.livebrum.co.uk www.luciacharity.org.uk/
Third www.mot.gov.kh/ www.breathingplaces.org
Fourth www.breathingplaces.org environment-agency.gov.uk
Fifth www.luciacharity.org.uk/ www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/

The first search brings up two results which are irrelevant to the festival; the first result being a gravity festival which took place in 2007 and the third result being the Ministry of Tourism in Cambodia.  The other three results are: a Live Brum, a fantastic listing events website; the BBC’s Breathing Places site and the LUCIA charity site which had a stall in the Fairtrade tent and was by no means a focus of the event.  The second search with a location brings up much the same, bumping Live Brum and LUCIA up to first and second page.

I assumed this meant I was just using the search engine badly.  This doesn’t often happen, but I presumed I was just having a bit of an off day.  So I tried again using ‘dirty weekend’ as this is apparently the full title to the event, adding a location to the second search.

Search result water for life dirty weekend water for life dirty weekend Birmingham
First www.breathingplaces.org www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/
Second www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/ www.breathingplaces.org
Third environment-agency.gov.uk environment-agency.gov.uk
Fourth www.timesonline.co.uk/tol www.spaghettigazetti.com/
Fifth www.spaghettigazetti.com/ birmingham.anglican.org

Both brought up fairly similar results; Breathing Places, BBC Birmingham nature article, Environment agency and an article on Spaghetti Gazetti about the Springwatch dirty weekend.  The first search brought up the Time’s Online’s dirty weekend guide to Europe.   This is something which most sensible people would’ve foreseen in naming something a dirty weekend and given this event was partly aimed at children, was probably not the wisest idea.

The last search I did was to try and find this on Birmingham City Council’s webpage.  It wasn’t on the front, which is understandable as a lot happens in the city, but mildly bothersome that the elections are still on there three days after they’ve finished.  There are two different Leisure and Tourism sections on the BCC site both bringing you to different areas. The one header at the top of the page will bring you to a page which links to an events section where the Water for Life festival is advertised.  The second “fast track” section on the homepage links to a calendar (incidentally mentioned as recommended on the other part of the Leisure and Tourism section) where the Water for Life festival isn’t mentioned.  Talk about confusing and repetitive.  I really hope these areas have more consistency on the new BCC site.

So unless you passed the Nature Centre in Cannon Hill on a regular basis and strained to see the small but numerous banners or had been invited to attend a stall (or lived with someone who had) I’d be amazed to know how about the Water for Life event.  Even super web searching skills would prove useless.

Birmingham is a great city and there are fantastic amounts of things going on.  But the general population of Brum will never know.  Water for Life seems a great example because the Environment Agency and BBC are putting on these in hundreds of other places  Sure there’s sites like Live Brum doing it’s bit to tell people but if the Council can’t get out and better advertise its own events how is anyone expected to take Birmingham seriously as a cultural city.  No wonder everyone laughed when we bid to be city of culture.

*This was originally posted on my old blog BeanHeartBatman*

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