Evidence of Body

embarrassing bodies

embarrassing bodies

It’s unusual to be able to see the direct impact, in terms of actual changes of behaviour, produced by a public service interactive project but in the case of Embarrassing Bodies this has been possible. A quick trawl through the comments on the site yields such evidence (there were over 3,500 pre-moderated comments in the first four days of going fully live). The core of the project is a set of Self-check videos. What’s so innovative about that? Primarily their openness, clarity and unflinching nature – very Channel 4 and it just wasn’t out there before in the ocean of web video. They show you what you need to see to be able to do what you need to do. The most telling comments for me are the ones where people realise they’d been checking themselves wrongly before seeing the video.

Another salient component is the creation of a rolling temporary community. I never set out to build a community per se. I was also keen not to reinvent the wheel of support provision in this area. So the dynamic is that people arrive in a just-in-time, task-oriented way – looking for the condition they are worried about (through any of the three search mechanisms). They then tend to hang out in the community just long enough to find which is the best support group or other help to plug into. In this way Embarrassing Bodies online becomes the glue to pull together a wealth of existing support and enable the best to emerge through detailed personal recommendation, rather than treading on the toes of niche communities and specialised support.

One other aspect worth highlighting is the use of the private space of the mobile phone (away from browser histories and prying parental eyes etc.) to enable people to make use of the material where, when and how they want – 12,000 mobile downloads occurred in those first 4 days. My hunch, for reasons including privacy and access, is that mobiles should play a major role in public service interactive media – from my observation, people in our circles get too obsessed with PC-/web-based delivery.

So here’s what 15 minutes trawling the comments reveals:

“this has helped me to make my mind up and go for help thank you

Really helpfull and i now check at least once a week …. Thank-you x

watched various videos and found them very very useful. wouldn’t have felt comfortable talking about some of these subjects with my doctor. they have taken the mystery out of the examination and treatment. thank you.

i suffer from this too, and its not something you like going to the doctors about. This site has been SO HELPFUL, as i now know its not only me!!

thank god 4 this website i am so grateful. it has started 2 get me down. (…) I had tests done then chicken out on the results. seein this has made me book an appointment with my doctor. its such a relief knownin im not the only person sufferin, thankyou!!!

i found all 3 self checking very useful. we all know we should do it but not nessesary how and are too embarressed to ask our own GP. i check my breasts yet i’ve been doing it wrong the video was an ideal way to show me the basics.

Hi, i just watched this video and checked my balls and i actually found a small hard lump on my left testicle, im only 16 is there any chance it could be cancerous (sorry if the spelling is wrong)?!

Thanks so much this has been so informative. My auntie died last year from Vulval cancer, not knowing that she was suffering from it. Now I know what symptoms to look for and how to self check I will do so regularly.
[Vulva Self-check]

Although now middle aged I was never sure when you were supposed to check your breasts. Thanks to your program I now know when and how. Many thanks and keep up the good work.

My boyfriend refuses to check his balls so thanks for the guide on how to as now i can do it for him.

WOW, i never knew how to do this check, i’m so grateful for this video its helped me immensely. thankyou
[Breast Self-check]

Interestingly, my friend watched “Embarassing Illnesses” last week, and they did something on checking moles, so he checked his out and noticed one had changed colour, so he went to get it checked and it does in fact need to be removed. So these programmes do something towards awareness!

i had it but i went to the doctors and now am recovered thanks !!”

This throws up the interesting question of how does public service networked media measure success and impact? Here we have evidence of positive behavioural change. For me the Comments stats are very telling. Then you’ve got video views. Return visits. UGC uploads. Session lengths. Buzz radiating across the Web. All manner of metrics. I’d argue that for most projects you can pick out a specific measure which captures the essence of the project, and which measure that is will vary from project to project.

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2 comments so far

  1. [...] a previous post, Evidence of Body, I pointed out a special characteristic of this cross-platform initiative – unusually you can [...]

  2. [...] a previous post on my own blog entitled Evidence of Body, I pointed out a special characteristic of this cross-platform initiative – that unusually you [...]


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