Posts Tagged ‘bbc internet blog’

Social Media: What Does “Good” Look Like?

January 22, 2010

“What does ‘good’ look like?” is a phrase I hear from time to time at work.

What good looks like in social media is “engagement”.

“Engagement” is a slightly pretentious word. One thing it means is that if someone writes a blog post with an opportunity to comment, then if you leave a comment then you kind of expect that they might comment back.

There were several good examples of “engagement” last week on the BBC Internet blog.

1. Andrew Bowden responding to comments on his post on iPlayer on Freesat

2. Matt McDonnell in comments on his post about Enhanced Search

3. A quick response post from Seetha Kumar reacting to comments on her post on E20

4. And last but by no means least – comment 817 by Andy Quested in the long running comments thread on BBC HD PQ. Andy still keeping his sense of humour:

“817. At 08:49am on 14 Jan 2010, Andy Quested wrote:
Dear Nick Mason (and all) I do try and answer all question and usually do.

Re 728/29, the AV sync signal is an interlace signal and will be displayed differently on different flat screens – there is no motion blur in the signal.

734 – Cranford looked very good – I am not sure what camera they used but it certainly met our HD delivery requirements and directors or directors of photography are free to choose any camera that does.

739 – not sure what I can say to this one at all!

800 – as for Survivors, I have to re-record due to “someone” deciding to override a clash and record a film on my PVR!”

I like and encourage people to respond to comments. I feel it gives the blog more influence and credibility.

But while I can point to good examples, I can’t really measure them. I can say “this is good” but I can’t say by how much, or whether the effort put in is worth it.

Any ideas for measuring “engagement” would be gratefully recieved.

Mobile Day Braindump

June 12, 2009

It was mobile day yesterday on the BBC Internet blog.


Sterling effort from all to make it happen on the day of a Tube strike.

High quality, meaty content from all parts of the BBC.

The video worked! Hooray!

Good news to tell on the N95.

Live twitter surgery a real highlight – we’ll do more of this.

Two potential regular contributors in the making: David Madden and Jason Da Ponte.


Like iPlayer day possibly too much content and not enough links/comments/engagement. Perhaps the community interested in mobile isn’t as big as I thought. Or maybe there’s just a lot else going on right now.

Now Hiring – Editor, BBC Internet blog

May 1, 2009

If you read this blog you’ll probably know that I am the editor of the BBC Internet blog.

But I’ve been given more managerial responsibilities (you might say). I’m not going anywhere, but I’ve just got too much to do.

And so I need someone to be Editor, BBC Internet blog.

We’re offering this post as either a 6 month contract (if you don’t work for the BBC) or a 6 month attachment (if you do work for the BBC).

Full details are here on the BBC Jobs website.

I think it’s a great job. So if you’re interested apply.

BBC iPlayer Day Thoughts

December 13, 2008

A quick brain dump the afternoon after iPlayer day.


1. Excellent contributions from some senior executives. Candid revelations from Ian Hunter, Tony Ageh (got him on the blog at last!) and a very good video from Anthony Rose (one of the highlights of the day).

2. Good content from others – especially Jon Jacobs thoroughly entertaining video (another highlight). And Rory Cellan Jones.

3. Community activity on flickr and twitter good with some sense of BBC people joining the community (but see negatives below).

4. Another tiny step towards the BBC being more open – with a couple of people who had never been on the blog before joining – possible contacts to develop later.

5. Seemed to create a good feeling among the iPlayer team and others in FM&T’s extended family.

6. A good feeling around how far the conversation around FM&T has changed in 12 months. This time last year the tone was very hostile, yesterday there were very few dissenting voices (perhaps there should have been more) and the message coming back seemed to be “we love you!”


1. I should have remembered one of Nick Reynolds’ golden rules (“don’t do video, you don’t understand it and it always goes wrong“). Still we sorted it in the end and the content in the videos was very good. We’ll do it better next time.

2. Probably too much content. You shouldn’t really use a blog to pump this much stuff at people. Better planning might have resulted in a slightly trimmed down offer. There’s still some stuff left over!

3. Too much content, not enough links.

4. Because of 1 and 2 I didn’t have a strong enough sense of what the community was saying and didn’t have enough time to follow up on any questions being asked.

5. Probably not enough hard technical detail to satisfy some of the Internet blog’s tecchie followers. Not enough research and other stuff being shared (although Ashley’s pictures were great).

6. Could have done more around what was actually happening on the ground on the day.

What did you think of iPlayer day?

“Sloppy” Technology Blogging – an Editor’s Dilemma

August 25, 2008

I was pleased to read this blog post from Dan Rayburn at business of (a blog I’d never come across before).

Key quote:

“Where is the fact checking by these authors? How about speaking to the companies involved before you write the article? You’re trying to decipher what someone from the BBC said on his blog and implying things as “facts” which is inaccurate. I had no problem contacting both networks involved to confirm the accurate info as I read it from the BBC blog.”

There’s been some speculation on blogs ever since Anthony Rose announced that the iPlayer would be using h.264 on some of its video on the Internet blog (disclaimer- which I edit in case you didn’t know) a couple of weeks ago.  As Dan points out:

“No where in Anthony’s post did he say anything about “switching” from Akamai to Level 3 or “replacing” Akamai for Level 3. Bloggers are implying that Akamai was the “previously chosen” provider and that Akamai has lost their BBC buisness, which is blantantly inaccurate…”

This kind of speculative blogging Dan points to sometimes gives me a dilemma.

Should I link to these posts in the Internet blog’s delicious stream even if they are interesting but wide of the mark? Or I should I ignore them on the grounds that they are gossip?

A post like this one on the excellent Telco 2.0 blog is going to be of interest to my readers. It’s speculative (phrases like “bandwidth wars” need to be taken with a pinch of salt) but is based on interesting data.  And I think my readers are clever enough and mature enough to make up their own minds about whether it’s right or wrong .

They’re certainly more clever than me. Much of the hard core technical detail goes way over my head. I was employed to edit the Internet blog not because I am a technology specialist but because (hopefully) I know how to talk online.

And the great thing about blog posts like Dan’s is that they give me stuff to link to and continue with that conversation.

Just like some of the wilder stuff that’s been written about the BBC and Microsoft if you ignore it, it won’t just go away. You have to intervene to have any effect.

And on a purely personal level I’m like Marlene Dietrich. If I see someone saying something about the BBC I know is inaccurate and I can show it is with a link, (even if it’s nothing to do with my work) well I can’t help it.

Marlene Dietrich from spike 55151 on flickr

Marlene Dietrich from spike 55151 on flickr

Freedom? Open source? Show me how!

July 22, 2008

“So the philosophical questions remain:

  • should broadcasters like the BBC allow users to collate other material alongside BBC assets?
  • and if so, how do we technically guarantee that content is appropriate for younger users and doesn’t cross the line with third party rights agreements?”

So says Marc Goodchild of CBBC in this post on the BBC Internet blog (disclaimer – I am the editor of the BBC internet blog).

Marc’s post opens up a pandora’s box of questions which need to be answered if the BBC is to make any progress in the wonderful world of the internet.

Last week I had two meetings.

One was a coffee, really rather than a meeting. It was with a colleague who I respect very much and works in the same part of the BBC as me. He’s a great bloke and chatting to him over many years has helped me learn about what’s going on. He has a legal background and has I think its fair to say not much truck with many of the more fashionable nostrums of the open source/freedom movement in technology and on the net.

“Why should the BBC let anyone use its brands or assets for nothing?” he says (I paraphrase for effect). “What benefit does the BBC get out of it? Why let people play around with our stuff? The brand has a commercial value and a public service value. We need to protect that, not give it away”

A contrast with my other meeting. This was a proper meeting (well, no coffee and in a room). A Controller and someone who wants the BBC more open with its data. The Controller (as they say) “gets it”. He wants people to be able to come to the BBC and know instantly what assets they can take away and how they can play with them.

Easy to say. Tough to do.

As Anna wisely said at the Techcrunch Open BBC event, it’s all very well expecting the BBC’s Director General to “get religion” but that would require the BBC Trust, regulators, rights holders, government, the opposition and the European Commission to get religion too.

And if anything the mood music from all of them is getting tougher. We still seem to be making the same arguments as we did thirty years ago. This recent speech from the new Culture Secretary asks this question:

Have we said content should be free?

(The “we” here is rather important. And the “we” is not the small number of people who might read this blog)

and tellingly:

The music industry has been the canary in the internet coalmine in terms of the consequences of piracy and illegal file-sharing. There is a lot of thinking yet to be done on this question. But we have signalled in our creative economy programme that if the policy and creative industry insiders don’t solve this problem, we will bring the same values of the real world – the values that say shoplifting of a CD is unacceptable – to the internet.

So Marc’s questions are practical challenges to those who think the BBC should open up its assets.

How are you going to do it?

And how are you going to persuade the people with the power that it should be done?

Emily Bell: What Conversation Exactly?

April 30, 2008

N.B. My personal views. Not my employers.

I was interested to read Emily Bell’s column about the BBC in Media Guardian on Monday.

There is an irony of course in saying “we need to start a new conversation about the BBC” in the dead format of a newspaper column. It’s not a blog so there’s no opportunity to comment. So there’s no chance of a “new conversation” actually happening.

But since Emily wants a conversation I’ll try and start one.

It’s also ironic that Emily’s column appears on the same day as Steve Hewlett’s which casts doubt on Channel 4’s plea that it’s in terrible trouble (a point also made in Media Guardian’s podcast last week).

Personally I think to blame the BBC for C4’s predicament is odd. As Maggie Brown (another Guardian writer) says in this week’s Ariel, C4’s troubles are in part of its own making (I quote: “C4 needs help… but not dollops of cash to splosh around”).

Is the BBC really to blame for the rise of Google?

For the recession? For the downturn in advertising revenue (inside the UK the BBC doesn’t have any impact on advertising revenue)?

Can all the troubles of the traditional broadcasters and the newspapers be laid at the BBC’s door?

I appreciate that from the outside the BBC can seem like a huge death star crushing all before it (when you’re on the inside it can seem like a cross between Kafka and the Keystone Cops – the Borg it certainly isn’t!). But it’s an absurd overreaction to say:

“But the ecology of some parts of the UK media is now so uncertain and fragile that it can be depleted by a single blow from the end of the BBC’s tail as it rolls over in its sleep.”

This is just not true. When the BBC wants to launch a new service it now has to go through all the regulation the rest of the industry has always wanted precisely to prevent this happening.

I also disagree with Emily about newspapers. Newspapers (like the Guardian itself) seem to me to actually understand what’s going on better than the traditional broadcasters. I predict they will thrive and give the BBC some healthy competition.

At least Emily has the grace to admit that the BBC has done all that everyone has asked of it. I happen to think that the BBC Trust is doing a good job (and can hardly be accused of being a management poodle after it closed BBC Jam). But there are people inside the BBC who think the BBC’s creativity, ability to innovate and public service remit is being stifled by over regulation and constant sniping from the rest of the industry.

Emily’s suggestions deserve examination.

“Maybe the iPlayer should have everything?”

Errm… well that wouldn’t exactly help the commercial sector as it wouldn’t be able to have adverts on or raise revenue. Project Kangaroo is a much better bet. Essentially this is a collaberative, commercial version of the iPlayer: the BBC helping commercial broadcasters make money. Perhaps if the Guardian wants to make money out of video they could be a partner in Kangaroo. I’m sure they’d be welcome.

“…shouldn’t BBC radio pages on carry buttons and players for all commercial rivals in those regions or market segments?”

It’s true the BBC needs to link out to other sites and providers more. And I suspect in the coming year we will see a lot more of this. But this is a cultural problem which will be solved as more and more people in all media companies (not just the BBC) realise the importance of linking. Heavy handed attempts to force the BBC to link will just result in a lousy user experience.

It’s also true that the BBC should be more open and help the rest of the industry with sharing ideas etc. Mark Thompson has said he wants this. Anyone who reads my blogs will know this is something I believe in. And I like to think that in a small way the Internet Blog that I edit and more importantly things like BBC Backstage are steps in this direction. But again this is a cultural problem which won’t be solved overnight.

It’s unusual (and a strange kind of conversation) to attack someone and in the same breath ask for their help.

Perhaps Emily could make some more suggestions about the ways the BBC and the rest of the UK media sector could work together.

Twittering: “A Man With A Hammer Is Chasing Me!”

March 18, 2008

I went to Cardiff School of Journalism yesterday to talk to some post grad students about the Internet Blog (thanks to Emma Gilliam).

It was more like an extended brain dump/therapy session for me than a proper presentation so I hope they found it useful.

One of my current lines is “There’s no problem that cannot be solved by blogging”.

We discussed a few problems and how blogging could solve them (“My wife’s left me“, “I’ve got cancer” said someone – immediately someone else said “there are lots of blogs about that”).

Another possible problem was “a man is attacking me with a hammer”.

I said “don’t blog it, run, get out your mobile phone and twitter it. All your followers will know you are under attack.”

But what if he’s on twitter too? he will either give up because he knows he’s being twittered or will run faster to try and catch you up.

Possibly easier to shout “help!” and call the police…

The Creature From The Black Lagoon

February 29, 2008

A video of me talking about aspects of my work as editor of the BBC Internet Blog. Recorded by Robin Hamman of Cybersoc. It cuts off rather abruptly at the end.

“I’ve been ill” is my excuse.

“Corporate Drivel”

February 18, 2008

A blog post in which I explain how I approach my job, which has provoked a (perhaps predictable) reaction.