Posts Tagged ‘h.264’

Marc Canter: “Right Things” – Wrong Information

September 16, 2008

I noticed Marc Canter’s blog post “Getting the BBC to focus on the right things” on Saturday.

Marc seems a bit misinformed about the BBC.

Let’s take some of his statements in order:

“…if the BBC can get rid of Flash, let alone Silverlight and Quicktime…

I don’t think Erik Hugger’s original blog post said that the BBC was going to “get rid” of Flash. It simply said that the BBC was going to adopt some open standards like H.264 for its video and audio content on the web. 

“No one cares if YouTube uses Silverlight, Ogg or Flash.”

Well I may not care, and Marc may see this as an argument from 15 years ago but the BBC backstage mailing list still rages with this kind of argument regularly. Some people, perhaps a small number, care very much. My colleague at the BBC James Cridland has views on this.

As I am a layman not a technologist, I tend to agree with Marc.

Licence fee payers in general don’t care much about the technology that powers what they watch and listen. They just want it to work.

And this is a practical argument, not a moral one (my thanks to Simon Hopkins who first alerted my mind to this confusion around “moral” matters).

If all licence fee payers used closed systems then that’s what the BBC should use to deliver its content. If they all used open ones then that’s what the BBC should do. The actual situation is somewhere in the middle. It’s about tactics, not principle.

“what about OpenID, oAuth, OpenSocial and Portable Contacts? … perhaps this post will get you supporting OpenID…”

Marc seems unaware that the BBC joined the OpenID Foundation in April of this year. See this blog post from my boss the redoutable Jem Stone.

“The BBC is a government unit who have been charged with opening up – by law.  As government policy, and as one of the world’s leading media entities, it is your DUTY to open up,”

The BBC is not a “government unit”.

Editorially, strategically and in the way it’s regulated, the BBC is independent from the British government, and certainly doesn’t do things just because they are “government policy”.

As for “by law”, I’d be interested to know what law Marc is talking about. I’m unaware of any legislation that compells the BBC to be open with its’ data or its’ content.

And as for “duty”, see my point about morality above.

The BBC does want to be open. The BBC’s current director general Mark Thompson has said he wants the BBC to be more open in all aspects of what it does.

I like openness myself.

Some of the things that Marc wants are being looked at at the BBC by the teams in the Future Media & Technology department (he should read the BBC Radio Labs blog).

But life (and more to the point British media) is, I’m afraid, a little more complicated than perhaps everyone would like.

And as I’ve blogged before, it’s easy to talk about being open and a lot harder to actually do it.


“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