I’ve just come off a zoom call with Ania, Gareth and Angelica, three of my most important colleagues. Ghislaine couldn’t be there, and was missed (the screenshot is from November 2020).
We started these calls on a Thursday three years ago, when we moved the production of Digital Planet into hybrid mode as the UK went into its first lockdown to try to control the spread of SARS-COV-2 and the BBC had to adapt its working practices.
Although the show continued to be broadcast at 2030, instead of recording ‘as live’ at 1930 we moved the recording time to lunchtime, and while our producer Ania and our studio manager were usually in Broadcasting House the rest of us were remote – though Gareth sometimes made it in.
Around seven years ago my friend Kim Gilmour, a fellow technology journalist who had moved to Australia after working on Internet Magazine, found me on Fitbit and added me as a friend. I’d started using one to track my steps a couple of years earlier, when they were small pebbles that you clipped to your belt, and upgraded to a wrist-worn one as the technology improved.
Ten thousands steps may be an arbitrary and unevidenced measure, but having a sense of how much I’d walked in a day and – until they removed the feature – how many stairs I’d climbed was helpful as I negotiated my exercise routine, and the fitbit community was the loosest sort of association with other people.
Then Kim invited me to my first ‘workweek hustle’, a fitbit social feature that let you compare how many steps you walked during the working week (9am monday to 5pm friday in your time zone), along with eight or nine of her other friends. Along with Kenneth O, Karen J, Mich and Handles, each day I’d see how I was doing in the leader board, all made more exciting because most of the participants were in a very different time zone and so I’d leap ahead during the day, only to wake up to find that the Australians had all outstripped me.