Directors' blog

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Archive for the ‘ianforrester’ tag

BBC to launch social calender for the north (#smc_mcr)


This week, like most weeks, in Manchester there’s a whole heap of digital community events going on – Social Media Cafe, a Jotta session, Geek Girl Dinner to name but a few on my personal radar.

It’s also a fair bet that there’s similar in Leeds, Liverpool, Hull, Sheffield, Birmingham and Newcastle.

Each will undoubtedly be well supported and promoted by their own organisers fine – but without any central reference point or collation, no place to potentially start cross-pollination of ideas and awareness.

Enter the Beeb with an online social calender.

Ian Forrester

Ian Forrester

Speaking at last night’s Social Media Cafe gathering, Ian Forrester told the group that a soft launch of such a website is imminent in the next month – six weeks and it will cover a patch defined as ‘the north’ which runs from Scotland to Birmingham.

Ian showed the group something similar operating in Oregon – Calagator.

In answer to a question from the group, Ian said: “the scope of the project is ‘if you think something is interesting to you, it can go in’.”

But having said that, it’s intended to be used for events of interest to the digital communities and not step into competing for eyeballs on the heavily crowded general entertainments listings where media companies are pushing.

Ian told me this morning that any listings from commercial enterprises would be removed by editors.

While Ian was careful to make it clear that the BBC wasn’t getting into the commercial space of venue or event advertising, it’s inevitable there will be many media companies, professional promoters and others keeping a watchful eye on this development from the corporation.

What do you think? Is this an area suitable for the BBC’s attention? A few whispers in my direction last night expressed doubts while others seemed hugely enthuiastic about having such platform made available . Love to hear your thoughts .

* A FriendFeed commentary I did during the session with Ian can be entered here.

Written by sarahhartley

June 3rd, 2009 at 11:39 am

‘Mash this!’ whispers Aunty Beeb


Chances are, you won’t have heard of R&D TV. As the name suggests, this is an experimental new programming format from the BBC where footage is supplied with the intention that you and I won’t just consume, but we will take the opportunity to create too.

As it says on the site: “The clips are raw straight from our cameras and although this may be too much for most people, it makes great footage for those who want to remix and mashup our footage with there (sic) own or others.”

Trouble is, only one such mashup has so far taken place despite worldwide access and awareness of the initiative is very limited.

Is this just early days for something ahead of the curve , or is the mighty institution smothering its fledgling participatory offering before it can get out of the nursery?

The crowd at last night’s Social Media Cafe in Manchester were in no doubt it was the latter, provoking a lively debate with the BBC’s Ian Forrester (AKA @cubicgarden).

Why couldn’t the BBC promote the new programmes through established programmes such as Click? Why wasn’t it available in iPlayer? Will it ever be shown on BBC2 – or even 3?

(As a personal aside – just look at the URL, hard to think of anything less user friendly).

Ian was able to explain many of the issues around licensing which make it difficult for R&D TV – soundtracks with music under copyright to artists for example, couldn’t be just handed out for further publication and distribution.

Fair enough points but, as several members of the audience pointed out, surely there’s content which is wholly BBC produced which could be offered up – or even specifically commissioned – if a true collaboration is going to take place?

I was left thinking that probably the highest hurdle this  brave project faces is an organisational mindset one – let’s hope that doesn’t take too long or become too distracting and good luck to Ian in pushing this on.

There’s no doubt that, while those internal bickerings take place, creative mashups will continue without any regard to licensing issues, hurt egos or approval from Aunty Beeb.


* There’s an audioBoo of reaction to the talk here.

* A FriendFeed commentary I did during the session with Ian can be seen here.

Written by sarahhartley

June 3rd, 2009 at 8:25 am