Back from SF

Currently jet-lagged, and catching up after a lovely trip to San Francisco, spent eating in fine restaurants, digging for old vinyl and getting more used to taking pictures with my medium format camera. Whilst I was away, I didn’t go online once, and hardly read a newspaper, so I’ve got that weird dislocated experience of picking through nearly two weeks of news in small, non-linear fragments.

Two major stories broke that directly affect what I do – the (long-awaited) announcement of who would lead the Government review of the BBC’s Internet Services, and Greg Dyke trailing the Creative Archive in his Edinburgh speech. The two are symbiotically related, in that the Creative Archive is one illustration of what the BBC’s role on the internet should be in the future. I’d like to think I had a part to play in the Creative Archive – I organised an event with Larry Lessig in February, then took some BBC people over to see Larry and Brewster Kahle in SF whilst I was at ETCON, and have contributed to the project since. But the truth is, the idea of doing something with the archive online had been kicking around the organisation for ages – the team I run at the BBC have been developing concept ideas in this area for the last 3 years, and there have been many, many others trying to find ways to do something with the vast cultural heritage of the organisation. Danny has written an excellent article for the Guardian Online about the annoucement, and followed it up with a couple of good blog posts. The comments on Danny’s posts are really interesting, in particular about the scale of the project, and what it could feasibly achieve in its first iterations.

I’m really pleased the project was mentioned in Greg’s speech, although the debate doesn’t seem to have kicked off in the press over here. Regardless of that, it makes the BBC a *very* exciting place to work at the moment, and actually makes me want to get back to work. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever come back from a holiday and felt like that…


  1. TomD

    It’ll wear off, don’t worry. 🙂

    I guess the challenge is to increase the tangibility of the ‘Creative Archive’ concept. Greg’s speech gave a clear indication of how things could work, if you lived in the sort of house where you already had video-editing software hanging around, and that the teachers would accept multimedia submissions on CD-Roms. Which may only apply in small pockets of West London and Buckinghamshire.

    Providing examples that the tabloids can understand is going to be key. That’ll increase the visibility and accountability of the project. Otherwise the CA could miss an opportunity to serve the wider audience, catering instead for those who may already be those classic ‘overconsumers’.

    My purely selfish list?
    – Think of a Number
    – Connections (hyperlinked please, it’ll be a race with The Knowledge Web)
    – Old RI Xmas lectures

  2. joe gibson

    Can you shed some light on Danny’s claims that p2p would be used to distribute the files?

    It seems far-fetched that an open network like Gnutella or a currently existing private network like KaZaA would be used to distribute the BBC files, especially considering the needs of other copyright owners who may have a stake in some of the productions.

    I like the theory of using p2p, but surely it’s more likely to be some kind of BBC-maintained p2p system??

    Please elucidate!

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