Shooting the Proscenium Arch

Stillwell Theatre, Brooklyn NY in 1927 - Proscenium Arch and curtains

I heard the term but never really understood what the Proscenium Arch actually was…

In his 1997 book “Architects of the Web,” Rhapsody founder Rob Reid calls this phenomenon “shooting the proscenium arch,” referring to the “proscenium” that frames a traditional stage. It’s the idea that when new technology arrives, the first thing people do is try and force old technologies onto the new format. He writes:

“The proscenium arch has many forms, and it lurks at the birth of all media. Early radio broadcasters whose announcers read directly from newspapers were shooting the proscenium arch. TV broadcasters who pointed their cameras at chitchatting radio announcers were shooting it as well. But the proscenium arch’s day always passes quickly, as famil­iarity with a new medium grows, and content evolves in directions that its earliest pioneers could not have foreseen.”

12 years at the BBC, and still a outlier

Tony Ageh

Recently Tony Ageh joined the New York Public Library as chief digital officer, as pointed out in the guardian

I had a lot of time for Tony and he was one of the people who attracted me to the BBC. I had no idea he had only joined 2 years before myself. But he was incredible and pulled no punches in what he felt was right. A lot like Tom Loosemore and others, he was public service to the bone. Something which I personally think it critical as more and more of our public services are being suffocated to death… slowly…

Frankly the BBC needs more people like Tony and he will be sadly lost. I found this part really interesting…

I would never have left the BBC but the opportunity is greater than I could have imagined,” he said. “I was good for the BBC because I was so unlike them, and didn’t want to be like them. But I told them that they have to shape this challenge, the internet, before it shapes you.

I feel the same, if I was to leave it would have to be such a great opportunity. in another public service focused company.  I also feel like I’m right for the BBC because I don’t fit the BBC mould. I would go as far as to say he has Humility, Craft and Hustle.

I’m sure I wrote or have said somewhere how I was not a fan the BBC, mainly for its lack of diversity in programmes, especially around underground music (hey I was young and a raver). It just didn’t reflect anything which spoke to me sadly. I didn’t even engage with the other (arguably much more important) aspects of diversity but it most likely played their part in forming my opinion.

The BBC is changing, not quite fast enough for me but the people make the difference. Like a recent q&a with a high-ranking person, where someone asked about more women in engineering. I was thinking in my head this is important of course but it’s about diversity not just gender. The answer, had me clapping my hand in my head. Its about diversity of people, thought and approaches. Perfect, I had to write a email afterwards thanking that person.

People like Tony and others are rare because the system filters them out. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got into r&d if it was to apply, and even now in my 12th year (yeah beleive it or not! It just happened around my birthday) I’m still not looking to fit in. Its not in my nature as a outlier… But likewise theres no hiding from the daily challenges and politics. As Tony said…

People do well that run towards the problem, not away from it.
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”

Good luck to Tony and I look forward to hearing what he gets up to…? Sure it’s going to be great!

Its reminds me, I was listening to Gimlet’s reply all and there was a really good piece about diversity.

A year of making love redeems its self?

Year of making love

If you don’t already know my own personal experience of BBC Three’s year of making love and the crazy things which have followed

However last night it was time for the whole thing to be played out on BBC Three. I had feared the very worst but what was churned out on TV wasn’t so bad. Nope the TV magic or the beauty of editing pretty much cleaned away the slate of last year. With it also the grand claims of a record breaking attempt, 500 couples, blah blah, etc

Interestingly during the show there was no official hashtag, so we used the #yoml hashtag which a few of us had been using during last years recording. Most of the comments were reasonably positive about the show which seemed to focus more on the couples than the experiment and process.

Even Laura said

Looks so smooth, sleek, quick and efficient.. The magic of television!

Was I in the show? Yes I saw myself twice but only really passing shots. The clearest is when Cherry Healy is talking to a guy and there’s me in background.

Most of the shots for the show focused on the start of the day when everyone was happy and still expecting great things to happen. However there are some shots where its clear the audience has thinned and are a lot less enthusiastic about the whole thing. In actually fact there was other signs of the conflict which was unveiling…

Loved seeing all the empty seats – that looked really really good……. Not

Steve G said on the unofficial YOML Facebook group

Nicely edited…the only evidence of the farce that day turned into was when Cherry and the scientists were discussing the matches you could hear the unmatched being called out like cattle like we were…
Yes I remember that moment too.. Being called out like Cattle lead to the sides and then being told they’ve changed their minds.
The scientific nature of the show was played down, because frankly it would have been a major sticking point for me. No matter what they say on the programme, we have the producer on camera talking about speed dating the leftovers. Once again you can’t claim science and then throw people into speed dating…

Ian Arundale said

YOML is a good advert for online dating algorithms! isItscienceOrLuck

To which I said no its not… Actually the science or luck is a interesting one… Being TV and the heavy editing they will show a selection of couples with a bias to the ones who last the longest. If we go on the first week, a possible one serious relationship out of 4 isn’t too great. I would suggest luck is in play more than science at this moment. This is why I’m very interested in the science behind it all as it gets to the bottom of something much greater…

With enough Big Data can algorithms work on some of the most human of things… falling in love?

Unforgettably, this show isn’t going to provide any answers…

Matthew S and Matthew K pointed out…

They didnt talk about the compatibility test at all!

Yeah, very true, the science was brushed over very quickly. TV has really strict guidelines about faking things, and we know there was lots of manipulation going on so they clearly had to be very vague about it!

Actually we were asked to make personal videos which you will see popping up on the show now and there… Of course I did my own and I have now made it public here.

BBC Three turned a smouldering wreck into a tiny little pebble which will satisfy the BBC Three audience I’m sure.

My part to play in it was minimum which was good because frankly Laura is a great woman and I have to say my match which I finally got after many months, seemed slightly off on the face of it. Actually would you like to know who my match was? Well it was woman called Olivia Pinder. I did write to her once but never heard anything so just decided she wasn’t interested or she was as fed up of the whole shame as myself. Then my YOML friend Cristina Conti asked if I had heard anything from my match and convinced me to give it one more shot. Of course I didn’t hear anything, so that was it. Plus frankly I had enough of it by a certain point…

Would I ever do anything like this again? Well if its a dating show/experiment no. I felt like I brushed close enough with those people who have words like “model” and “promotions” in their résumés & had been on other TV shows! Just there looking for stardom?! This so isn’t me and I am still very surprised they let me take part at all.

Almost at blows

Steve G posed a interesting question,

Gotta feel for the people who had sat through until 8pm (like myself and it was 9pm) and didn’t get a match however I don’t know whether I would of preferred that and not knowing then having being matched last minute…

Personally I always wanted to know who my match was… the not knowing was frustrating because I knew someone knew but didn’t want to tell me unless it was in front of broadcast cameras. The moment I knew, it wasn’t such a big deal anymore. Even when I heard nothing back, it wasn’t a problem. I think the not knowing was the problem.

My brush with mainstream TV has been too close for comfort, to date I’ve gotten away with it. Maybe thats a sure sign I should avoid at all costs from now on… I’ll keep watching just to see if some of the friends I made are on there but otherwise this is one experience I can mark up as a close shave.

Broadcast or Perceptive Media?

I was half watching Newsnight and working on my laptop, on Thursday 31st January on BBC2. Newsnight finished and the weather came on. Now the #uksnow is pretty much out the way, I’m not so interested in the weather.

Anyway as the weather man ran through the upcoming weather forecast, I looked up when the man mentioned Manchester. A few moments passed and I thought well its related to rain, so Manchester is a obvious target. A few moments later, Manchester was mentioned again and I looked up again. My glance become more of a stare as I thought about perceptive media.

The moment of attention or as I like to think about it, a moment of deja vu. Was powerful enough to make me lift my head and divert my attention to the weather for a few more moments at least.

The ability to connect and engage with people using slight differences in narrative. It doesn’t require huge sweeping changes, just clever well written narrative.

Perceptive Media presentation at the EBU, Copenhagen

Copenhagen

I really enjoyed my time in Copenhagen… It kind of reminded me of a combination of Berlin, Amsterdam and Stockholm. I had wished I had more time there for many reasons.

Copenhagen Archtecture

So what was I doing there? Well me and Tony Churnside were asked a while after that presentation at SMC_MCR by the European Broadcasting Union (they run the Eurovision song contest I’ve heard) if we would offer a unique look at a possible future for broadcasting. Originally we said no because the idea wasn’t fully formed (hence the early thinking) but it became clear we might have a demo which we could maybe show. That demo of course is still under-wraps and we hope to reveal it to the world soon enough (keep an eye on the BBC R&D Blog for more details). It was well received and it certainly got people thinking, talking and wanting much more. And yes it is Perceptive Media

EBU campfire reference

On top of doing the presentation and heading up a question and answer session with Tony, we got a good chance to see the rest of the summit and speak to many TV related people. Its amazing what our European public broadcaster friends are doing. Thanks to the always busy but super smart Nicoletta Iacobacci (who also uses troublemaker in her job title) from the EBU who was the one who invited us and made us feel very comfortable. Of course the amazing Mia Munck Bruns, who I had the joy of sharing my love for good cocktails with on the last night.

Cocktails in Copenhagen

We also got to see parts of Copenhagen but we were mainly in Ørestad. I could only see the one of the moutain dwellings  as talked about in the Channel4 documentary recently from a far, but it looked very impressive. And to be honest the architecture and design effort in Copenhagen was amazing… It was like walking through Stockholm or the pages of Inhabatit.

When we first arrived (our flight was 2 hours delayed) I had a massive headcold and couldn’t hear out of my right ear due to not flying well. But we walked straight into a session involving media study students and TV producers. It was run by Nicoletta and reminded me of when BBC Backstage invited the people behind UK Nova in to meet the BBC. The students explained there media habits and the TV producers tried to make sense of it all.

The thing which shocked me was the lack of twitter usage in Denmark. The students talked about using Facebook as we use Twitter. Google Plus never really came up ever. The 2/4 screens meme came up time and time again. And a few of the TV producers started getting irate why the students were treating TV like radio or as I prefer wallpaper.

They couldn’t understand why they have the screen on if there not watching it. Little disagreement broke out saying they should be watching what they broadcast. Well what followed was some ice words on both sides… As usual, as I’ve heard all my life. The students media habits were dismissed as early adopters. I asked if any of them created there own media rather than just consumed and shared? Very few did (maybe one) further indicating there not early adopters but just the norm.

Fantastic session along with

During the trip the EBU treated us to a series of lovely dinner including one at a amazing Opera Hall.

Opera House

Unfortunately the way to the opera hall was via boat which isn’t exactly great for me. But I made it even with Tonys teasing…

The rest of the conference was dominated by TV as you’d expect and there was some real interesting things from other public European partners including Äkta människor or Real Humans

In a parallel present the artificial human has come into its own. Robots no longer have anything robot-like about them. New technology and advancements in the field of science have made it possible to manufacture a product – a kind of mechanized servant – that is so similar to a real human that it can often be considered a perfectly good substitute. The Human Robot (HUBOT) have also given rise to new problems and dilemmas. Thorny legal questions have increasingly started to occupy people’s minds and are still waiting to be answered: Who is responsible for the actions of a hubot? Do hubots have some form of “hubot rights”? Should they be paid for their work? As an ever growing number of people form relationships with hubots, the boundaries between human and machine become blurred. When humans make copies of themselves, which are so close to the real thing they form emotional bonds, the questions arises – What does it really mean to be ‘human’?

Looks like one to watch for sure…

Great to experience Copenhagen and see that crazy bridge/tunnel to Sweden from the plane.