Summary of the BBC Backstage London Christmas Bash

Ian & Matthew @ BBC Backstage

Some of you might notice this is almost a copy of the summary on the backstage blog, but I've added bits which I felt were best left for a personal blog.

Thank you to everyone who turned up and made this our most successful event to date.

We had started very early on Saturday afternoon packing bags thanks all the people who signed up and helped out before the doors opened.

Crazy amount of backstage goodie bags

We did open the doors on time and did turn some people away because they were not on the main guest list, which was a big regret on our part but those were the rules we specified in the emails. After 8pm the venue was open for anyone who wanted to enter.

Nicole only has eyes for one person

Once we said a few welcome and thanks speeches it was back on with the party and a night of endless chatting and djs playing all types of music. There was even some so called dancing…

End of night dancing

Our goodie bags were packed with stuff and enjoyed by the people who came to the bash. Everyone also got one of our new Backstage T-shirts, which went down well.

BBC Backstage Goody bag

There was some interviews at the event, which were done by Chris Vallance of BBC Radio 5 Live's Pods and Blogs. We've put them online for your listening enjoyment

Matthew Cashmore talks about BBC Backstage
Sarah Blow on London Girl Geekdinners and Geek culture
Walid Al Saqqaf talks about
James Cridland talks about Virgin Radio
Ian Forrester talks about London Geekdinners and Geek Media
Matthew Spouce on New Scientist Magazine
Adam Fletcher on Spread Shirt
Nigel Helmeton on

My wife Sarah also wanted to say sorry and explain what happened upstairs which caused her to shout fucking bitch while she headed for the toilet very upset. It would turn out Dedrie from Chinwag had been joking around and took it too far with someone (sarah) who she didn't know.

We have received some fantastic feedback…

And a huge thank you to Ian, Matthew and their team at BBC Backstage for being wonderful hosts. A big thank you as well to our generous sponsors who helped the evening go with a swing by providing us with food, drink and raffle prizes – Admob, Skills Matter, ConnectMeAnywhere, O'Reilly, Trusted Places, Techcrunch UK, and Chinwag.

Helen from Swedish Beers

I just got back from the BBC Backstage Christmas Bash. I went with Adam, who was in London for the night en route to Le Web in Paris. I met some interesting people, some new, some old, drank back some of my licence fee in free beer, and had a pretty good time. We were interviewed by BBC Radio 5 at some point, but Adam thought it would be funnier to wind me up and make me laugh than it would to be on the radio, so I doubt that it'll be aired.

From Matt Sparkes.

Actually the BBC never paid for any of the drink. We only paid for the venue and food. The Sponsors paid for the drinks and although your laughing might not have got on the radio. We may have found a uncut version for the Backstage community.

John Wilison will you admit to seeing a good side to the BBC now?

Some more comments and emails

To an interesting party tonight courtesy of the folks at BBC Backstage, who were kind enough to manage to get me into this party at moderate last-minute. Lots of fascinating people, some even saying that the party reminded them of the last web boom.

James Cridland

I just wanted to say thanks for organising such a delightful event on Saturday – it seemed to flow supafine from what I could see once we got off the front desk – and I had interesting conversations which is all I care about really, thanks again!

Nicole from HP

Well I can happily report that the BBC Backstage London Christmas Bash was a total success! Ian and the rest of the guys behind the event did a cracking job in organising it. One of the key highlights was the cake for the guys at kindly provide. The BBC goody bag was also very cool too

Adam Burt

I would like to thank you and your team for organizing such a great party. We had a great time. Thank you.

Josette from O'Reilly

Lots of drinking, Cake and a little dancing from the odd one or two people… As well as speeches and prize giveaways. Oh and not to mention the sear number of people there… There were party bags, t-shirts and we even had santa's little helpers do the party bags. /images/emoticons/happy.gif

Sarah Blow from London Girl Geekdinners

Thank you for letting us participate in the BBC Backstage event as sponsors. The cake has generate a good amount of buzz.

Walid from Trusted

I wanted to thank you for giving Skills Matter the opportunity to be a part of your great party on Saturday evening

Joanna from Skills Matter

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks for all your hard work organising the backstage bash/geeks christmas party. It was great fun, and nice to see everyone all in one place.

Caz from BBC/Siemens

I went along to the BBC Backstage Christmas party last night. I've posted some photos to Flickr. I'm a Graucho-Marxist curmudgeon who'd never belong to a club that would have me as a member, but I can honestly say thanks to Ian Forrester and his colleagues at Backstage, the sponsors, helpers, and the tireless staff at the Cuban it was a great night.

Miles Metcalfe

I did recieve one email (from a sponsor) complaining about the bash.

I write today to express my disappointment to see the information bag sitting in the corner when leaving the BBC party on Saturday…

…On top of this there was only one poster in the whole venue that mentioned us but there where a host of “supported by” posters scattered around…

…I hate to write this negative email but we did hope that as a sponsors we would receive better promotion and because of this we found the evening frustrating.

I have yet to write back because every other sponsor has said thank you very much and they would like to work with us again on the next one.

Finally a selection of our best shots from the bash cakeBBC Backstage London Christmas BashParty on!PosterO'REILLY - BackstageSarah with her lemonadeDSCF8410.jpgIan & Matthew @ BBC BackstageSarah Blow with a cocktailDSCF8444.jpgPeople chilling upstairsMario twitteringRadio 5 live's Pods and BlogsDj Cashmore spins some tunesSarah and ShilaInspire the backstage bashTag your self hereHelen and SarahGet your backstage tshirts hereDot caught taking all the beerMatthew gets interviewed by BBC Radio 5 liveBBC Backstage London Christmas BashBBC Backstage London Christmas BashBBC Backstage London Christmas BashBBC Backstage London Christmas Bash

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My BBC talk at Ravensbourne College


So on Tuesday afternoon, I gave a lecture at Ravensbourne College to a mix of interaction design, broadcast and graphic design students. John told me, it just needed to be inspiring. So I was torn between my day job at BBC Backstage and things I think about daily. So I started with my presentation about what is backstage. I got to the 3rd slide before the whole lecture turned into a dynamic conversation about the BBC. It was fantastic, the students and staff wanted to know where the BBC was going in the future. Along that path we explorered the questions of advertising on the BBC's international facing website and the Microsoft BBC agreement. Miles did say this

I did find myself reminded of John Battelle's description of AltaVista as it was fucked over by DEC (just prior to the sale to Compaq): “a mammal chained to a dinosaur more likely than not will get trampled.

While I don't know the details of the agreement, there were lots of thoughts and worries about the future of non-DRM content coming out of the BBC. Someone mentioned Dirac and asked whats happened to that? There was also a serious debate about why we didn't write our own DRM? The suggestion was that DRM in understandable if we can't make up our mind between DRM and NoDRM at this point. And you know what thats actually a good question, even if we internally couldn't build it. Maybe someone else could have from a netrual position. I've heard good things about Open Source DRM but not seen any marjor adopters. This would be an ideal project for the BBC to trial. Hey maybe even a Backstage Project? Someone (i think miles) did ask what would happen if someone today created a videoplayer which looks and feels like the BBC player which is being worked on? I said we would certainly be interested in it from a prototype point of view and if it was that good, who knows what might happen.

Although most of this could sound like BBC bashing, it was far from that. It was concerned people wanting to understand why certain choices were being made without them and wondering what they could do to make sure the BBC values lives on in some form into the future.

For any students who might be reading, I uploaded the raw html from the cache of my desktop RSS reader. I hope to clean it up a little more in the near future.

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London Backstage Christmas Party, Saturday 9th Dec

Smooth water

So its now no real secret. I'm planning a big christmas party for BBC Backstage. The difference is that rather than going it alone and creating a whole lot of havoc with everyone elses plans. I decided that Backstage should actually talk to the rest of the community groups in London and encourage one big party. This is core to the BBC Backstage values, rather than go it alone we're going to see whats already out there and see if we can help out, encourage more take up or parcipitation. Anyway, so after the emails went out, I started getting into conversations with different groups and got a line up to rival all line ups. And on Friday night at the geekdinner I revealed the party plans.

To make things clearer, I posted up the details on the Backstage blog and then with the advice of Rob, hit Upcoming and Eventful

Yes the rumours are true…

There is a BBC Backstage Christmas Party being planned for Saturday 9th December in London.

Rather than host it ourselves and clash with everyone else's parties. We decided that it would be very fitting to backstage if we collaborated together some of the best groups and communities in London. Then got them under one roof to share in the Christmas Party…

Seemed like a crazy idea, but I would like to introduce our fantastic partners for the Christmas Bash,

Swedish Beers
London Girl Geekdinners
London Perlmongers
London Webstandards Group
London Ruby user group
Open rights group
London 2.0
Momo Monday

We have an excellent Cuban venue (TBC) all to ourselves deep in the area of Moorgate and Citypoint.

So please keep a note in your calendar, as Saturday 9th December looks to be a fantastic night to be in London.

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BBC Weather feeds

BBC Weather

After all the fuss, harsh words and long wait for BBC weather feeds. They are now here for use under the BBC Backstage licence. Its been something we've been sitting on for a while because we wanted to make sure it was all correct and wouldn't get pulled after a few days. So here's the official announcement from Kathryn at BBC Weather

I am very pleased to inform you that BBC Weather's first RSS feeds are now live. Links to them can be found on all 5 day forecast pages:

The feeds are located at{world|id}/{location_id}.xml

E.g. and

All of the 7379 feeds are updated at least* twice a day (at approximately 8AM/PM *GMT*).

We are planning more feeds, and improvements to these ones as well (e.g. dynamic generation of feeds, which will allow us to offer different flavours such as Atom; additional content such as tide times and current observations (Met Office willing); additional semantic mark-up).

In the meantime we look forward to seeing your BBC Weather widgets in the Backstage Widgets Compo:

I have included geo:lat/long tags in all entries to facilitate mappy mashups. Enjoy!

I look forward to hearing your comments, concerns and ideas.


I think we're going to have to do something for the first person to map the BBC weather feeds on top of a Google map.

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Events planned for Friday and the next few months

at media social

So I've been very quiet about my Backstage job on my own blog, according someone I recently spoke to (yes you who just got a new flat, you know who you are). But its not because I don't want to talk about it or because I can't. Its because I'm so damm busy! This is a good thing because everyday there is something new to deal with and on going projects which were just kick starting.

Along with my new job at, is event planning. Being the public facing developer network which backstage is, this will mean lots of events up and down the country (yes not just London). Its not a problem to give you an insight into some of the events were planning. Yes this is a good chance to get them in your diary or calendar so you don't miss them…

So first up is the Geekdinner with Molly which has nothing to do with backstage at all. This is shaping up to be a large geekdinner with at least 70 people signed up to come. I'm going to have a word with the pub manager because actually were going to take over the whole bar if it rains or is cold outside. In the past, we've been able to use the benches but in late October this may be a problem. I may also have to invest in a microphone and speaker setup because with so many people it may be a problem hearing Molly, although being from New York shes use to making herself heard.

On October 31st we got the same venue for a great game of Werewolf, and what better day to play it? If you've never played before, don't worry come along its easy to pick up and ever so much fun. Specially when everyones been drinking. Don't drink too much or you may turn into a real werewolf…

Now were heading into new waters. On Monday 6th November were going to have the first new Backstage meetup to go with the backstage widget contest. The venue is not confirmed but it looks to be somewhere in the city maybe moorgate? We were thinking Fireworks but couldn't find a venue where we could set off fireworks (kidding!).

Now were certainly in new waters. I've contacted most of the groups and communities around London like Swedish Beers, Girl Geekdinners, etc and asked if they would like to take part in a large scale Christmas Bash. The Christmas Bash looks like it will happen sometime between Wednesday 6th December and Saturday 9th December. The venue is still under lots of consideration and partly depends on the amount of london groups who agreed to take part in the bash. But honestly it looks to be a good one, so please keep that part of December free if you can.

Hummm I've missed something? Ah yes, BarCampLondon2. Yes I'm still working on it and I might know soon what date and where it will be. I'm still going for late November but I don't have any more details to give quite yet sorry. Once I know anything all those who asked if they could help with the next one will know and I'll announce it to the world soon afterwards.

So yes quite a few London events, but fear not. I might have news for other parts of the UK soon. The best way to keep up to date with my events and others is using upcoming and also now the google calendar

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BBC Backstage Widget Competition

So those talented guys at just launched a Widget competition. The prizes include a Origami PC and Nokia Internet Tablet but the other interesting thing is there will a meetup event where the winners will be announced.

I'm still new to widget creation so, I'm also going to try making a couple and link to any resources which I find useful. Like we talked about internally this is not simply a competition where we put it out there and expect submissions back. This is a conversation, and we will be listening and learning during the month. So good luck and subscribe to the mailing list for more information.

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Senior Producer at

So before the modern equivalent of the rumour mills start rolling (maybe blogs or more like myspace and bebo). I'd like to let you all know that I've been offered the position of Senior producer of and of course I have accepted it. This does mean crossing London everyday (SE18 – Woolwich Aresenal to W12 – White City and back everyday) but this also means my main job is to open up the BBC a little more everyday. What more can you ask for? I already have plans in my head for increasing the profile of backstage and of course providing more public feeds and apis. There's also lots of areas where backstage could go which hasn't been visited yet. So don't worry folks I'm on the case with fresh thoughts and enthusiasm like you've never seen before. But to start off, we need to work out the details such as a start date, etc. Hey and theres the first british barcamp and geekdinner's to be arranged. Talking of which… if anyone knows a place where we could hold a geekdinner in Brighton on the 9th September please do let me know.

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