Microsoft's Channel 9 proving its ROI

I made a passing reference to this the other week, but there’s some interesting new data on Microsoft’s Channel 9… also known as legendary blogger Robert Scoble‘s day job.
The idea behind the website is reportedly the ‘channel nine’ you get on in-flight audio, which lets you listen to the pilots’ radio communications. The theory is that, if you can hear them calmly flying the plane to its destination, you have no reason to be scared. (I don’t know if there’s a ‘kill’ button which the pilots press if things suddenly get scary.)
It’s a brilliant concept for a company, like Microsoft, with an image problem. It’s very easy to hate Microsoft. It’s very easy to hate Windows when you see the dreaded ‘blue screen of death’ (which is starting to happen on a daily basis for me.) It’s very easy to hate the richest man in the world.
So Scoble et al take a camcorder round the company’s offices, and chat to the ordinary staff about what they’re up to. The production values are minimal (editing? what’s that?) but that makes it all the more authentic. These are the people who build the tools that make your day easier (er, usually). They are normal guys. They are smart guys. They care about what they do. And suddenly it’s a bit more difficult to hate them.
Now Scoble has some (almost) hard data to prove its worth. Channel 9 is ‘the #1 most referred to thing by college recruits’. So not only does it have soft marketing benefits, it’s a hard business tool, too.
I’ve long believed there are lessons here for government. We have the same image problem. We have similarly good, hard-working, intelligent, committed people. Why not be a bit more open about the practical difficulties of doing things that look simple?