BBC.co.uk 2.0, why it will happen

Myself

So since my post in reply of Jason's post there's been a lot of discussion and conversation. Technorati as usual doesn't quite get as close as Google. Either way, its the emails and im's I've been getting which are also interesting. Most people have been really supportive, while others have been less that supportive. They felt I was slagging off the BBC and making things worst by talking about my own views. I mean how dare I express my own personal views on my own personal blog right? The same blog which has the subtitle, The views and thoughts of a dyslexic British designer/developer. Anyway, its late again but I'm going to finish what I was writing before as somethings were not explicit.

When out and about people ask me many things about the BBC, one of which is about the iplayer. Even in Boston, people once they know you work for the BBC wanted to know more about the decisions which formed to create the iplayer. They ask if I use it myself and I say no. Most ask why, and I try and explain my media consumption diet in a short period of time. But the main point is people ask, I'm sure all BBC employees get this? Its great, people are very interested in consuming BBC content and services but are very puzzled about the whole DRM issue. They ask why would a public broadcaster apply DRM to its content? Some more clued up people ask the same question and then point out that our analogue and dtv content has no such restrictions. Yes the BBC puts out press releases and has a official website with discussion boards (not indexed by google), but people still ask. So I put across the point of most of the content we play on TV, we only have broadcast rights to and that indies own a good proportaion of the content rights which goes out. However the question remains why DRM?

Some of my non-supporter, seem to think its just the geek world which are upset about this. Well we have to remember its the geeks which are fixing and installing stuff on their parents computer come Christmas time, geeks that are willing to test drive a beta service/product like iplayer and finally geeks who lead the way into the mainstream market. So thats a sure reminder not to just write off this stuff to geeks. However what also prompted my other post was this video by Robert Llwellyn. Its a rant and his own view but its interesting to note, like I have done up till now, Robert bundles the iplayer into one. Yes and that is the vision but has also wound people up royally. So to explicit here, when I say iplayer is a mess and I'm sure when most people say they hate the iplayer, its not because of the system behind it or the interface or the delivery system or even the quality of the video. No its all down to the DRM. The DRM is so attached to the iplayer, and because of it over 2mins of Roberts rant was about DRM in iplayer.

The iplayer team have worked damm hard on a good solid product/service and are hearing lots of negative comments about the iplayer when actually people mean the DRM. However, because the whole service is robustly built, I'm sure it will out live its current form and who knows whats around the corner?

Right to address, if I should be talking on my blog about this stuff. This seems to rub a lot of people up the wrong way., some seem to think I might be bigging myself up at the expense of the BBC. Well I'm not and I'm not going to let you guys bring me down. I love working at the BBC and love my job, its ground breaking and I go places and speak to people most never get a chance. So, I want to make meaning and I believe the BBC is capable of moving into the next curve with its unique funding model. Unlike Jason, I think its unique public funding model will be an advantage over the advertising or subscription models. Oh at the same time can I make it clear I was disagreeing with what Jason was blogging about. So why write anything at all? Its the Cluetrain effect. Things have changed. Take a look at the difference between the Newswatch and the editors blog. Its not so much about the layout but more the conversation or voice. So rather than talk any more, here's a few Cluetrains which sum up what I'm getting at.

#3 – Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
#10 – As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.
#12 – There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
#14 – Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

#34 – To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.

Some good examples, Wikipedia entry on the iplayer, Imp's ultimate review of the iplayer, E-petition and Currybet's first 14 days.

So at the end of day, iPlayer is just the start (and in beta), over the next few months you will see a BBC which will silence its critics and launch a range of services which will impress. Transparency and conversation is important and it will take time for everyone to adjust but with time… BBC 2.0 it will happen. Look at projects like Backstage, Innovation Labs, TV Backstage, BBC Blogs, etc… to get a feel of the changes starting to happen.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.