It’s been a while. I am very grateful to a few people nudging away to get me back into writing. Even reading my own blogroll tells me a lot about how times have changed. I have been Professor of Digital Media and Innovation at WMG, University of Warwick for almost three years, albeit working part time. I’ll be blogging about my work and the digital media and innovation landscape from now on. But first the credits! First thanks to Daniel Bennett a PHD candidate at Kings College, London who asked me to review a chapter of his PHD thesis about War reporting and BBC Blogs. Second to Dr. Tim Jones, who asked me to step in a co-author a chapter in the forthcoming book “Growth Champions” to be published by John Wiley early in 2012. Third to the Berkman centre for Internet Studies whose blogpost round-ups keep me informed and excited by new work in this field all over the world. Why thanks? With time and money short there seem to be fewer and fewer people writing and blogging in depth with their thoughts. Facebook and Twitter have changed the day to day landscape of communications beyond the graphs of early analysis. So to review in depth work like a PHD chapter or two on the history of the BBC and Blogging or to contribute to a discussion about what makes certain companies excel in Innovation leadership forced me to step back from the everyday hurlyburly and think about the last five years , or 10 years or in the case on my chapter on Apple , 35 years! More of which to come in time.
Category Archives: bbc
Am wondering how the predictions made last year in Kuala Lumpur are going – so taking a day out to visit the SGI and the Serious Virtual Worlds Conference in Coventry live streaming on their page. I got here late but my colleague , Rain Ashford, has written up the morning before coffee.
I am no live blogger but I am highlighting something of a theme in this session which is all about interoperability. And that theme s that interoperability is not simply a technology issue. I’ll put in some more links and pictures later.
He went on to say that it’s people who need to do trials and want to. So make it possible for them or teach them how. Beware of Lock out – dangers of single source solutions. Make sure you can move around. Interoperability needs to be driven by commercial forces. Necessity is the mother of invention = mash ups and native integration. Delays in pilots and implementations as a result of these issues.
What other elements need to be interoperable? This is the list that Forterra’s clients keep on coming back with.
Content = eg clothing. Answer – adopt industry standards eg 3d studio max, maya, sktechup instead of building modeling systems
Interchange formats – eg Collada = answer they developed native importer for collada
scripting and animations
legal issues and intellectual property – who owns the data? Cap off to Linden – if you make content in SL you own it and you can take it wherever you like.
beyond islands and fractals
learning management systems
avatars , log in s etc
In Second life you have always been able to upload content and take it away . He went through some examples of this, but dwelt longer on CarbonGoggles - more later, with a nice plug for the BBC and in particular that he did some work for this application at Mashed 08.
Images – James Au remix
Animation – standard motion caption
Streaming Video – is enabling us to have this conference in Second Life now- people go to Second Life for speakes but stay to talk to each other – there will be more of this in the future
Web = embedding web pages in SL – not static – seen as huge step for interoperability
Should web browsers be enbedded in virtual worlds or should virtual worlds be in web browser – Jim thinks former
Web services – objects built in SL have links to real world services to pull data in – making the invisible visible – eg carbon data . Can’t do it in real life , can do it in SL. Takin gexisting stuff in SL and overlaying with data – much deeper integration – can actually pull in data from real world by reaching out to the web LINK here to carbon emissions data – app built in 24 hours at MASHED, nice plug here. Real deep application bang for buck most important type of work CARBON GOGGLES.
Machinima – most important area for ip in SL
Economy – i need some chairs, here are some good ones, they are here for 20 linden dollars so I will buy soe of them for my virtual world who needs a 3d artist – that is becase the economy is interoperable
have been working with IBM and Virtual Sims – The Future
Virtual worlds to be operated by different people eg IBM, Forterra, Linden , Uni – and some screenshots of Open Sims being teleported into SL regions and elsewhere.
Early work, long way to go before it can support big applications and reliability but in other ways very interesting, building in modular ways , using phsyics engines etc not for the fainthearted.
Open Source and Open Sims means you never get stuck (never get stuck good title) can always download source code if necessary! so small scale is poss, and so is large scale – this sounds good to me as a layperson as it will allow lots and lots of people to experiment.
Second Life has always been interoperable – this is not new. It has had media upload streaming media web embedding, web services, but imperoperability is not just about technology and talking to the web is more than puting viewer in a browser.
As I pack my holiday reading I realise that the books I am taking might be considered to be “work”orientated but after a momentary hesitation in they go to the suitcase. It’s clear now that my work interests are very close to my own life interests, and that is a good thing So books I have dipped into are going to get the proper attention they deserve. And my big question is this : is the power of the network strong enough to overcome the advantages of proximity?
I am thinking about this again as people I work with regularly are all on the move.
I am sad to miss the Kingswood Warren 60th Birthday party however obscure that might soundKingswood Warren has been the home of BBC R&D for 60 years and there is a party to celebrate next week, and a day of demos. But I read in the Guardian yesterday that there may be strike action to coincide with that day. That was news to me and got me thinking about the relationship between innovation and place.
You may have read articles in the press about the closure of Kingswood Warren and what that means to the the BBC , and there is undoubtedly a lot to think about when you start a discussion about the relationship of innovation and creativity to a place, geographical location or to a building.
But the fact that this building looks so opulent and other worldly obscures a proper discussion about the relationship between a place and the work that goes on it it. When we talk about an “esprit de corps” in an organisation or team, it’s a body of people we are talking about and their spirit we are highlighting – but does the place in which they work together count in the equation and if so what does it count for? Or can we say that wherever teams who know each other well work it will be the same? Is the power of the network strong enough to beat the power and advantages of proximity?
At the BBC this is the first move for the Kingswood Warren staff to London and that is likely to be followed by a second for some of them and many others to Salford to the MediaCity Development. This is a very interesting and exiciting development and the opportunity to create a groundbreaking research and production centre – but it will be a few years until it is all up and running and lots of transition time is hard for even the most dedicated to handle while keeping productive .I say this as someone who has worked in an organisation for many years whose propensity for change is high, and whose need to change is great.
This is not only being debated at the BBC, but more generally by writers such as Clay Shirky and Charles Leadbeater writing about collaboration and the network. What can be done virtually and what has to be done face to face? My take on this has always been that innovation is a social process. The place can be a garage or indeed a dingy forgotten basement such as the birthplace of BBC Imagineering, but the spirit needs to be willing. Networks work well virtually when there is a common purpose and a vision or mission. They also work in real locations for the same reason – the key is in relationships, language, camaraderie and cooperation – in other words in the social.
esprit de corps (-də kôr′)
group spirit; sense of pride, honor, etc. shared by those in the same group or undertaking
Etymology: Fr, lit., spirit of a body (of persons)
esprit de corps
I said I would return to write more about this projecta while ago. And since I’m currently putting together my final contribution to the project at this stage I can desribe what we at the BBC currently do much more accurately to enable the public to explore how contemporary media content is made.
I was very pleased to be able to do this project given my preoccupation with the value of openness, and getting more value for the audiences out of what we already do.
As I have come to learn the BBC mostly does a lot more than any one member of staff will know about and sometimes I wonder how the public can be expected to find all the good stuff. Much work has been going on to remedy this and the work is beginning to bear fruit – /programmes and /topics are helping bring everything together.
Having said that people take their own approach with their content – and you’ll find a mix of “making of” films sometime tagged onto the end of a TV programme like Planet Earth and Life in Cold Blood, on the DVD and sometimes on the web; whole programme offerings like Dr Who Confidential and Heroes Unmasked go behind the production process. CBBC have part of their website How We make TV dedicated to how they do their work and BBC Three’s The Baby Borrowers’ short film explained the complex sets of arrangements for the care of the borrowed babies. Radio 1’s Meet the DJs recently won a Webby award and gives an insight into what constitutes the job of a DJ on Radio 1. Other examples include Click andNewswatch from the News channel, Feedback, Points of View too offer insight into our workings – that is if an audience member writes in to complain or suggest a subject.
More recently our blogs, particularly The Editors blog, Sports Editors blog and Internet blogs all offer their staff a way of talking to the public about how they do their work behind the scenes, how they make their decisions and sometimes simply what it is like to work at the BBC. The Technology blog has also done a great deal to explain how contemporary media content is made.
I Interviewed and met a lot of people during the project and found a great interest in being more pro-active in this respect, if only they had more time – some people though made a virtue of publishing their Behing the scenes workings like the April Fools’ film made by BBC Marketing on the Flying Penguins, and ng, the Making of clip on You Tube. I looked at what other organisations are doing and had a think about how we might bring together what we do and add some new dimensions.
One of the most rewarding things I found was that the more I went around asking questions about why didn’t we publish photos of where we work and how we work; why didn’t we publish some of our internally created video for staff training ; and what about other research we do that might in the right circumstances be shareable the more I found people coming up with ideas for what they could do, and would do more of. In fact people have started just doing it. What about writing about our events? Describing our jobs or sharing presentations we give at conferences around the world?
So, I hear you asking, who wants to know any of this stuff? We conducted a short audience survey asking general and specific questions about their interest in how the media works; their interest in how content is made – radio, tv and web content; whether they might like the opportunity to question people who run things in the media; whether they would like to learn how to make TV, radio, or create a blog etc and some other general questions about Openness and organisations. This was a very good first step to getting a baseline of interest which was reassuringly positive. Next steps will likely be taken by someone else who will be able to dedicate themselves to the project – and I hope they do some qualitative research to gauge some more latent audience needs, and some prototypes based on what they find before taking up my early recommendations lock stock and barrel or do anything else to them!
A while ago I attended the Convergence Think Tank second seminar organised by BERR and DCMS looking at convergence in the media, telcos, advertising, policy etc. There is a good write up here by Simon Waldman. The most interesting thing for me (and I wasn’t officially representing the BBC) was the momentary conversation about the need to try new models of distributing content. Dawn Airey talked about this briefly in terms of potential experimentation with content in the long tail.
While detail was elusive I was glad to hear the thought was there. I tried to make a point but was not called and the point I wanted to make was that while there were organisations there representing Artists creativity and rights there were no artists a this event. Why might that be important? Because Artists are doing it for themselves…last year Radiohead, this year Rezner.
It would be great to get some hard facts about this artist-lead distribution models. And see what it might bring by testing it with video or tv clips owned by talent/artiss rights holders online…
Ofcom has scrapped the PSP. This is very interesting. At the Oxford Media Convention in January this year, at the session about the PSP and ideas about the future of public service broadcasting I made a comment from the floor as the temperature rose on the panel. Perhaps I just do too much facilitation at the moment. But what I said was that it seemed to me that the PSP proposal had always been a carrot or a stick (rather than a real thing). What had happened in the last year was that the industry, in its criticism, had taken it to be a stick and tried to kill it but it could have been seen as a carrot. Am beginning to wonder having just listened to the new Channel Four Innovation Strategy online this morning whether Channel Four might have taken it to be a carrot. I think we should be told….
Whatever has been going on behind the scenes, the Channel 4 Innovation for the Public fund sounds interesting
“Designed to “kick start a wave of new investment in public service digital media for audiences around Britain” the £50m 4IP fund will launch in July as a collaboration between Channel 4 and a series of development and media agencies from around the UK”
as does some of their language around creating value for the public and a new public value framework.
I’m working on a new project and in the early phases of scoping what it might be. It’s been described formally like this:
“ The Director-General informed the Trust that he has commissioned a major new online project which will enable the public to explore how contemporary media content is produced. The BBC believes this will be a major contribution to media literacy in Britain.”
I’m tagging what I find on the internet on my delicious stream. Current told us how to make media from the start. Four Docs from Channel 4 is also telling you how to make but also asking you to comment.
On the media is from NPR and they say ” For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us”
I like MediaShift by Mark Glaser at PBS. Recently he interviewed Patrick Ruffini on the use of mobile and social media in the US by Presidential candidates. And while this post is not about how we make media, it is about how media shapes our lives which is the media literacy part of the project. Looks like he has started a new area called IdeaLabs whose tagline is “Reinventing community news for the Digital Age”.
In my next post I’ll describe more what we are already doing at the BBC and how some research conversations are already leading to people talking more, and showing more, about what we do “Behind the Scenes” which is the working title of the project. Alright it’s not very original. But it does what it says on the tin. Also how other people talk about us and what we are up to.
But I’d love to hear about what else is going on in this area. Who’s doing what? And any ideas about what you’d like to know about too.
While I was away in KL back at base at the BBC we were marking the 10th Anniversary of bbc.co.uk The Internet Blog is hosting a nice series of articles looking back as we move forwards into the next ten years. Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society is also marking its 10 year anniversary . I’m looking forward to following their News Re:public study. It’s going to look at how people who are not professional journalists are changing the information landscape and civic life as well as how traditional media outlets are using new sources and interactive tool to engage their readers, listeners, and viewers. They’ve got a conference coming up in March 2008 to bring researchers and practitioners together on their way through the research programme. Colleagues Rowena Goldman and Brendan Crowther are doing their bit for our research effort on this front. Check out the details of the new research projects their Arts and Humanities Research Council/BBC Knowledge Transfer project Meanwhile it’s Creative Commons 5th Birthday this weekend too.
I’m at Skoll World Forum in Oxford looking at at ways of enabling social innovation. And while you might think the BBC as an organisation is not in this field, I would argue strongly that it is. While we are not social entrepreneurs we do have a pro-social remit enshrined in our Charter. Namely,
sustaining citizenship and civil society;
promoting education and learning;
stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;
bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK;
and helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services and, in addition, taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television.
Indeed a colleague, Tom Loosemore, at a recent seminar at the RSA, suggested that programmes were but one vehicles for delivering these purposes.
The enabling of innovation is central to what we do, both as someone working in a dedicated innovation team, but to many or most of my colleagues in their day to day jobs. Speaking for myself though we have studied and incorporated innovation practises from business, from academia, from the world of design and from our licence-fee payers, amongst other fields, and of course, grown some of our own. Currently the team I work in runs a series of innovation initiatives with research partners, lead users, SMEs and independent producers, and academic partners.
As our business units and organisation changes and restructures so too do these processes, from high to low – and that is what is so fascinating about this ever moving field. Units come and go but the need to innovate remains crucial. What an organisation chooses to do in this field at any one time is quite an indicator of what is going on more widely. In my own organisation I can see innovation all over the organisation – springing up into newly forming groups all of whom want to get ahead with embracing the world of digital media and it begs the question. Do you really need experts, or are we all innovators now, social or otherwise?