Why I shut down BBC backstage

BBC Backstage Meets the NW communities networking bash

George sent me a tweet saying how much Elizabeth Murdoch loved BBC Backstage, as she mentioned it in her speech to the Edinburgh TV Festival last year.

The BBC has been the market leader for building new relationships and services with creative’s from every sector. Be it the early ground breaking Backstage initiative for technology engineers.

Shes right and it does beg the question, why is there no more BBC Backstage?

I thought this was covered in the BBC Backstage ebook which was put together by the lovely Suw. But it looks like I may have been slightly mistaken. On top of this, I keep making reference to this blog post which I never seem to quite finish. So enough, its finished and out there for all to read…

First misconception: The BBC never shutdown BBC Backstage

Actually I did… When I first mentioned the possibility of closing down BBC Backstage to Adrian (my manager) he thought I had totally lost it. I remember a meeting with Adrian and Matthew (head of R&D) where I talked about shutting it down and I gave my reasoning which made soften the blow a little. I had thought long and hard about leaving BBC Backstage and passing it on to someone else younger and full of energy (I even had a number of names put forward to consider). But it didn’t make sense.

The problems with Backstage were not about who was running it but more about what was happening around it (as we will see in number 4)

Second misconception: The BBC sits on a ton of data.

The core of BBC Backstage was the backstage license which is founded on non-commercial reuse of data. This gave backstage the license to go around the BBC educating/persuading/convincing stakeholders about the benefits of open data at a time when data wasn’t a big thing. The problem is the data wasn’t ours. For example the Met Office would make the weather data available to the BBC under strict licensing. Deals were done for non-commercial use and it was always neigh impossible to reverse a deal without effecting the production side of the things.

Lots of people imagine most of Backstage was hacks. In actual fact lots of it was people experimenting.

Third misconception: Developers found new business models

This backs off the non-commercial problem. Because everything was under the non-commercial license, when things like the Apple App Store came along and offered developers clear ways to make money from their work. We had to shut down a lot of prototypes and tell people not to use BBC backstage data in there apps.

This was actually a issue from early on when Google Adsense, offered developers a nice way to make a small amount of money based on numbers of people who came to the site. It was argued that if developers made enough money to just cover the hosting of the prototype, we could turn a blind eye to. This wasn’t sustainable as it kept coming back to bite every once in a while. But it wasn’t till the App stores when the number of prototypes and services wanting to go commercial blew up.

Once developers learned it was actually against the terms and conditions, they naturally moved on to other platforms.  We did talk to BBC Worldwide many times about working together but it just wasn’t to be.

Forth misconception: The Open Data Revolution passed it by

Backstage had a hand in getting this revolution going in the UK and beyond. 7 years later, we had influenced everyone from other companies to the government. We were there right at the start of this revolution and fundamentally changed the BBC’s thinking about data. However it was clear this was just the start and as a part of BBC R&D, it was right to move on and have the same impact in another emerging area. The developer network part of Backstage was tricky to balance with the push to drive forward.

We did think about splitting it off and working in partnership with others who were later to the scene but it just didn’t quite happen and in the era of cost cutting and doing the things which really have an impact for our audiences it was harder to justify.

Fifth misconception: It was all about DRM and the BBC wanted rid

Looking at the mailing list, its easy to imagine it being all about DRM and not a lot else. But in actual fact while the DRM debates rages on, there were lots of people creating and making lots of prototypes. Lots of them were documented on the website but there were some which were so illegal there was no way I could put them anywhere public. Those were more of a look what we could do…

Even though they were much more black/grey around the licensing terms, they drove the imagination and clearly got a number of us thinking what if…? One such example is the widely talked about blast from the past called Panadora PVR (now called Promise.TV) which lead to Tom Loosemore’s talk at Etech 2007, the Edinburgh TV unfestival and the building of the infamous BBC Redux.

The BBC gained a lot from having the debate and being rather open about it all.

Sixth misconception: There was no money or love for BBC Backstage

This is somewhat true and false. Yes it became more difficult to justify and we had gone through quite a difficult patch, while losing some key people to project. On top of that we had a new head of Future Media (Erik Huggers), moved into BBC R&D and was shifting the project up to the north of England to fit in with BBC’s increasing push to solve the London and South East bias.

Everything was changing and everytime we took BBC Backstage in a different direction, there was push back from the dedicated community. To me this is the way of the world (forever changing) but it certainly makes funding such projects difficult when you want a 3-5 year plan.

There was much love for BBC Backstage from Future Media and other departments in the BBC, there was lots of talk about setting up other Backstages in different areas as a outreach project alone it hit audiences the BBC was not so good at having conversations with. The formula was repeatable but should it be? We could have done Mashed all over the UK but was that a good idea? I certainly didn’t think so and ultimately my thoughts about driving forward were correct.

Seventh misconception: We ran out of steam

Ok this might be true to a certain extent. But not from the lack of trying… You only have to look at the new things I’ve been working on since, including Channelography, Perceptive Media, etc. There is still fire in myself and I still have a lot to give… During that time, I will admit I was well over worked and I was being contacted by many people on the off chance just because I was out in the open. This certainly slowed down daily looking through BBC emails. Hence why I now have a another BBC email.

Ultimately I want to thank everyone who has been involved in BBC Backstage in the past (too many to name). The decision was made under a ton of stress on my part but I felt I was making the correct decision for everyone including the founders, the BBC and the community. Then and even now. I mean can you imagine BBC Backstage in 2013!?

Things need to end (such as BBC Backstage, Innovation Labs, etc) for others to spark, grow and mature like BBC Connected Studio.

 

Big Data should be the word of the year

bigdata_network

I heard Geoff Nunberg’s piece on NPR’s podcast and I got to say, although I’m pretty much big dated out from BBC Backstage (in a nice way) I’m in total agreement. Here’s a few key points… Well worth listening to in audio form…

Whether it’s explicitly mentioned or not, the Big Data phenomenon has been all over the news. It’s responsible for a lot of our anxieties about intrusions on our privacy, whether from the government’s anti-terrorist data sweeps or the ads that track us as we wander around the Web. It has even turned statistics into a sexy major. So if you haven’t heard the phrase yet, there’s still time — it will be around a lot longer than “gangnam style.”

What’s new is the way data is generated and processed. It’s like dust in that regard, too. We kick up clouds of it wherever we go. Cellphones and cable boxes; Google and Amazon, Facebook and Twitter; cable boxes and the cameras at stoplights; the bar codes on milk cartons; and the RFID chip that whips you through the toll plaza — each of them captures a sliver of what we’re doing, and nowadays they’re all calling home.

It’s only when all those little chunks are aggregated that they turn into Big Data; then the software called analytics can scour it for patterns. Epidemiologists watch for blips in Google queries to localize flu outbreaks; economists use them to spot shifts in consumer confidence. Police analytics comb over crime data looking for hot zones; security agencies comb over travel and credit card records looking for possible terrorists.

It’s the amalgamation of all that personal data that makes it possible for businesses to target their customers online and tailor their sales pitches to individual consumers. You idly click on an ad for a pair of red sneakers one morning, and they’ll stalk you to the end of your days. It makes me nostalgic for the age when cyberspace promised a liberating anonymity. I think of that famous 1993 New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Now it’s more like, “On the Internet, everybody knows what brand of dog food you buy.”

BBC Backstage in the guardian again

So now the ebook is out there, this pretty much spells the end of the BBC Backstage project. The backstage site & blog will go into a deep freeze so none of the links will be broken. It was interesting to read the Guardian wrap up of backstage, there was some good quotes from our interview way back in December 2010. But what got me was after a while was the slideshow from Rainycat. She was so good at documenting things. Of course afterwards I spent about a hour or so going through my own photos tagged bbc backstage.

I’ll say it again, BBC Backstage was an amazing project to be part of and even run. Not just the big stuff but also the small stuff. The good times (the many events we did, the prototypes and finally getting our own backstage playground servers off the ground) and the times when I thought I might be sacked (such as undermining the podcast trial by launching our own using blip.tv or crossing the hacker/BBC divide by sympathising with the DRM protests).

Its been simply incredible and looking back through the pictures, I see a lot of really happy people. Theres no doubt I’ll be chasing the high of working on backstage for quite some time to come. I think I remember a conversation I had with Rain after her attachment came to an end.

"Working for the BBC should be that way, and anything we can do to make that happen is always a good thing."

As always thanks for tags hackers of the new world, hopefully what we do next will be even more exciting that backstage ever would have been.

The history of BBC Backstage (the ebook)

At long last the Book charting the highlights of BBC Backstage is available for everyone to download and read.

Download in [PDF] [print ready PDF] [EPUB] [MOBI] [RTF]

Originally I wanted to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of backstage in May 2010 with a book made up with the contributions of the actual people who made it work over the years. So I contracted Suw Charman Anderson back in early 2010 to start work collecting the material for the backstage book and newspaper.

By April 2010, she collected and started to write up whole sections of the book with help from Kevin Anderson (Suw’s husband and good friend of Backstage). The whole thing was done over Gmail, Google Docs, Basecamp and Dropbox. The plan was to go to print with the book by Thinking Digital 2010, which was also the time when I was going to announce the closure of BBC Backstage. Of course we all know what happened in May/June to me (I had the bleed on the brain if you don’t remember).

This of course put everything in a tail spin and so we missed all the dates for printing, publishing and announcing the end of Backstage.

So fast forward to the point when I’m out of hospital and things are shifting at work. It made sense to pick up the large body of work which was almost finished back in May and put it out in the public domain. Of course this was easier said that done.

Brendan Crowther, Ant Miller and Adrian Woolard worked there socks off collecting together all the bits which were floating on these different services. Not only that, they built a small team of professionals who helped manage the process of making the ebook (as it became).

One of the things which I never got around to doing before my bleed was the design of the book. We had planned to use the newspaper club’s default templates with a little fix here and there. But Nicole Rowlands has done a amazing job stamping her distinct style into the ebook.The copy also had a rethink and re-edit by Bill Thompson and Production editor Jim McClellan. Between all these people and of course Sarah Mines everybodies favorite BBC publicist and PR Lady…

….We finally give the world Hacking the BBC: A Backstage retrospective.

BBC Backstage was a five year initiative to radically open up the BBC, publishing information and data feeds, connecting people both inside and outside the organisation, and building a developer community. The call was to “use our stuff to make your stuff” and people did, to the tune of over 500 prototypes.

This ebook is a snapshot of some of the projects and events that Backstage was involved in, from its launch at Open Tech 2005, through the triumph of Hack Day 2007 and the shot-for-web R&DTV, to current visualisation project DataArt. We take a diversion to Bangladesh to see how a Backstage hacker helped the World Service keep reporting through the horrendous Cyclone Sidr, and look at the impact of the ‘playground’ servers, used inside the BBC.

Backstage’s mandate, throughout its history, was for change. It changed the way people think, the way the BBC interacted with external designers and developers, and the way that they worked together. So what remains, now Backstage is no more? The legacy isn’t just a few data feeds and some blog posts. Backstage brought about permanent change, for the people who worked there, for its community of external developers and for the BBC. What better legacy could one ask for?

Download in [PDF] [print ready PDF] [EPUB] [MOBI] [RTF]

BBC Backstage – The End of an Era

So there’s been talk about the end of BBC backstage for a while and in certain circles its been heavily discussed.

As has been discussed recently in the press and various channels online, the BBC has taken the decision to close BBC Backstage in December 2010. Given the report recently in the Guardian Tech blog this no doubt comes as little surprise to most. However, I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain why this decision was made and what it means for the BBC as an open innovator in the future.

BBC Backstage has been a great success. I am very proud to have worked with the team on numerous projects. It was the forerunner to many other emerging, successful initiatives and has made a valuable contribution in driving the BBC towards genuine open innovation. In many ways it has been very much of its time.

More details will follow over the next few weeks but I can say…

  • I am not out of a job instead I’ve been planning to do more research for a while
  • The BBC have not done this behind my back (I’m still off work on sick leave)
  • We had planned to shutdown BBC backstage since May but thats exactly when I had my bleed on the brain, so everything got pushed
  • I had planned to do an announcement at Thinking Digital 2010 in Newcastle
  • I’ve been behind backstage for about 4 years and I really do care about this amazing innovative project
  • I’m not the only person whos been involved in its success. James Boardwell, Ben Metcalfe, Matthew Cashmore, Rain Ashford, Ant Miller and Brendan Crowther all have worked for BBC Backstage.
  • Also Matt Locke, Tom Loosemore, Jem Stone, Huw Williams and Adrian Woolard have managed the slippery beast which is BBC Backstage. Oh and never forget Sarah Mines the BBC Publicist whos work life was changed when she got bbc backstage as her new project.
  • Although there was lots of events and large scale prototypes which will be talked about over the next few months. Please please don’t forget the small prototypes, events and sponsorship which bbc backstage was responsible for, as those matter as much as the big stuff.

Hopefully over the next few months, we’ll explain the impact backstage has had on the BBC as a whole and why all good things must come to a end.

The Data Visualisation Manchester Weekender

So as you may have already seen, Data.gov.uk, BBC Backstage and Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) will be running an ‘unconference’ focussing on data visualisations. The unconference will team up 100 developers and 100 designers to create diverse and imaginative data visualisations from open data. The aim of the event is to facilitate an unusual opportunity allowing the diversity of the two traditional job roles to bring together imaginative use of open data sources.

The website for more information and to sign up is dvwm.weebly.com

Whats the schedule?

April 9th will see a pre-party get together at a central Manchester venue (TBA)

April 10th will be the first day of the event complete with open sessions to help get you inspired

April 11th will be the day when you can show off your visualisation on stage

This may also help answer your questions?

  • It will be a mix of hackday/mashed with a unconference type event, its the same format as we have used for Over the Air 2008
  • There will be lots of coding, designing and general hacking.
  • We have secured a venue in central Manchester which will allow over night stay, so theres no need to worry about hotels on the Saturday night.
  • A small but good amount of food and drink will be available, but if you ever feel hungry for more theres plenty of shops and restaurants in central Manchester.
  • The venue isn’t far from Piccadilly station, so getting to and from the South, East and West should be pretty easy.
  • Anyone coming into Victoria Station should change on to the tram heading to Piccadilly.
  • The event is totally free but requires signup beforehand and confirmation from the organisers.
  • Visualisations don’t have to be just virtual, they can be physical too.
  • You can use the hashtag or tag – DVWM to find related stuff
  • Yes its in Central Manchester not Central London
  • Yes we all love open data

Interested designers and developers can find out more and apply for an invitation via the DVWM website.

Ashley Highfield on iPlayer, DRM and Crossplatform Support

From the Backstage Blog, a frank discussion about DRM and Cross-platform support. It all started when I asked Ashley a few questions recently about the iplayer strategy. Ashley answered the question with quite a bit of passion and Matthew Cashmore thought hey wouldn't it be a good idea to get some of that passion in a recording. He is the result which you can judge for yourselves…

The iPlayer, no don't do a runner, seriously, it's taken over the mailing list, dominated our discussions and is something that many members of the backstage community care an awful lot about. So do we. We all know the questions. Why don't we stand up to the rights holders? Why do we insist on using DRM? Why did we sign a secret deal in blood with Microsoft?

So we finally decided that these questions needed answers, and the only person to talk to was the boss. We present 26 minutes of questions and answers about iPlayer, DRM and cross platform support with Ashley Highfield, Director Future Media & Technology.

In this frank discussion we cover the DRM issues, explain that iPlayer isn't a Microsoft only party and ask why didn't we use a non propriety solution.

You can get the file directly from Blip.TV under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence in Mpeg3, Ogg Vorbis or AAC.

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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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Full write up on the wealth of netwoks conference

The Wealth of Networks

I wrote my notes up here on Backstage.

The TTI Vanguard is one of those groups who run conferences you hear about but never get the chance to attend. In actually fact it might be membership or invite only like the Churchill Club. The people who attend and speak at the conferences are simply leaders in their fields and make a special effort to make such conferences. Boston plays host to the wealth of networks conference which includes great speakers such as Dr. Eric Miller (Zepheira), Clay Shirky, Dr. Henry Tirri (Nokia), Nicholas Carr, David Prior (general dynamics uk), Andrew McAfee (Havard) and Yochai Benkler who actually recently wrote a book which influenced the whole conference.

Read the rest here

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Video interviews from Xtech 2007

Xtech 2007 in Paris

It was great being at Xtech this year but it wasn't all play. I did actually film a lot and take notes. Ok there were sessions which were a little too early for my liking but that's the way it always is.

Along with all the videoing and write ups about Xtech 2007. I shot a few interviews while at Xtech 2007.

meta-technorati-tags=videos, backstage, bbc, interviews

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Hackday officially live – sign up now

hackday in Sunnyville

As previously mentioned on the backstage blog. Hackday.org is now official and you can sign up and grab yourself a ticket now.

The dates are the weekend of the 16th – 17th June at Alexander Palace (yes now it makes sense why I had pictures of the venue on my flickr stream)

Its a partnership between Yahoo! Developer Network and BBC Backstage, which we've been developing for quite sometime. Matthew Cashmore, Tom Coates, Matt McAlister and many others have been involved in this from the start.

As the hackday.org site says, stimulation will be provided in Food, Drinks, Feeds and APIs. Like BarCamp, you are welcome to play werewolf sorry hack or (sleep) through-out the night. Tomski's already offered his shower for Sunday morning. Its going to be a very cool event. No I won't
be doing a live DJ session from stage 1 afterwards but nor will Beck this time around.

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Want to explore the BBC archive?

Film cans

From Backstage

The BBC is looking for people to join a six-month trial in which 20,000 UK residents will get free access to hundreds of programmes from the BBC archive, including reports of historic events as they happened, ground-breaking documentaries, soaps, action-packed children's shows, sumptuous dramas, and comedy shows that thrilled the nation.

Interested? then you can now register your interest on the BBC Archive site

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The reaction to the first Backstage podcast

Podcast group

The first ever BBC Backstage podcast has caused a quite a stir. Some of it negative and some of it positive.

Generally the reaction to the podcast is positive but Ben did say he felt Backstage shouldn't be hosting such a debate. Its bigger that Backstage and should be taking place somewhere else. Fair enough, but till then backstage is where it will stay for now.

Before coming to Cory's thoughts on the BBC and DRM, I thought I'd better cover some of the other points from others first. Upyourego loves the podcast too and makes a good point about the lack of RSS like Tom Morris. Adam, Brian, Superfly
picked it up
and so does Euan Semple, who is surprisingly quiet about it. But some of the comments left are interesting, including one from Cory. Weird Cory didn't post any comments to mine or Ben's
blogs entries
.

Corys post to BoingBoing is over the top. I love Cory but he took a few points from the podcast and went to town on them. He threw out most of the other stuff which made it a much more balanced debate. For example,

You can hear the disappointment in the visionaries at the BBC, the betrayal at being sold out by management. The BBC is forcing Britons to buy an American operating system — Windows — in order to watch British programming, made in Britain. The free and open GNU/Linux — whose kernel is maintained in Britain — can't be used for British TV, because of DRM.

Well yes there was something in the air but we're positive about making things right and turning things around. Open DRM is one of many things discussed but Cory doesn't mention this. Tom has a comment which I don't quite get, but I'll ask him tomorrow.

Arstechnica does a much better job at reporting a more balanced view of the podcast. Although the title is misleading – BBC explains decision to go with Microsoft DRM.

The brouhaha surrounding iPlayer makes for some good reading, but more interesting is the podcast. The BBC engineers on the show come off as intelligent, affable folks who don't like content restrictions any more than consumers do. They're also fully aware of recent technologies like Ogg Vorbis, BitTorrent, and SlingBox. For those curious how DRM and rights decisions are made behind the scenes at a major public broadcaster, this is definitely worth a listen.

A couple of good comments follow too.

That's an amazingly insightful podcast! Thanks!

Which company has used DRM longer, the BBC or Apple? Just because Jobs uses DRM and then says “but we shouldn't” doesn't mean a thing. Well, depending on how gullible you are. It's about as meaningful as Google's “do no harm”. Actions speak louder than words.

Currently Digg and Slashdot have yet to pick up the podcast or its reactions. Oh it looks like we'll be uploading the video this week.

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The first BBC Backstage podcast: DRM and the BBC

Podcast group

The first ever BBC Backstage podcast kicked off in fine style on Wednesday 7th February.

We invited some of the most vocal backstagers in the long running debate over DRM, to come and join us at the BBC to discuss face to face what they felt about DRM and the BBC. The hour long discussion around DRM and the BBC included,

You can listen with the built in player below, or you can download and remix the MPeg3 file or the Ogg Vorbis file. Both are licensed under creative commons attribution. So as long as you credit backstage.bbc.co.uk, your good to go. Don't forget to check out some great action shots from the debate…

Dave tries to reason with Michela

Miles asks some difficult questions

Dave

Brian prepares to answer James

Tom listening to Brian

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Molly interviewed for bbc backstage

I shot this video with Molly earlier in the week, which I shared with Backstage but I received a great comment which I thought was good enough to quote here.

Interesting interview, thanks.

It's interesting to hear Molly's views on how it can be technologists versus the business with regards to standards. I think this has been true of everywhere I have worked, and it's understandable. I think the points about businesses understanding the ROI from standards is also valid, they are waking up to this, however the biggest set back seems to be legacy issues and timescales. Often there are old systems that are difficult to replace, but also a great many of the contemporary tools that offer faster creation
do so at a cost to the code quality. Can we please get some good standards compliant .Net components?

Also the mention of uneducated educators. This is so true for a great many areas of IT still it is shocking, even university level courses are behind the times, especially where IT is not the primary focus. I remember how quickly as a class at uni we knew more than the lecturer about Photoshop. The problem is made worse when the teacher is too proud or arrogant to acknowledge their lack of ignorance. Which gets me onto a whole seperate rant about the quality of teaching staff and the under appreciated nature
of the job. It should be a desired occupation (like being a doctor) where the rewards are high, but you are held to account harshly for not being up to the task.

I haven't really seen the use of divs as table cell replacements, but it has been along time since I made the transistion from table based layout to CSS driven layout. I can easily believe it though, they are such different ways of working and require you to think so differently about you build a website. I've been made aware of this transistion again recently when learning Flex and WPF, where although some principles carry across, there are different rules and what you thought was the best way of doing it isn't
necessarily the case.

Thanks for the interview though, I hope Molly can engage the business guys at Microsoft

Elsa from Elsa

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