15Oct

Proper open source at BBC Vision

posted by Steve Bowbrick

Rob Hardy who’s a software engineer team leader in BBC Vision (which used to be called Television) directs me to a couple of explicitly open source resources: a bunch of Perl libraries (handy software tools that can be lifted and freely used in assembling new applications) released by his own team under the GPL (the collection was originally assembled by John Alden) and a central catalogue of BBC open source code.

This kind of resource is taken for granted in the tech world these days, where open source has gone from weird libertarian fad to mainstream production practice in less than ten years but it’s really the bedrock of an openness policy. The richness and quality of an organisation’s open source catalogue is an index to its commitment to new models: openness, transparency, honesty…

The big test of the open source way of thinking is whether we start to see catalogues of non-software assets distributed under similar free-to-use licences over time. What I find fascinating here is that deep within the unassailable fortress that is BBC Vision—the corporation’s largest and most influential division with a £1BN budget—open source practice has obviously firmly caught hold. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if it spread like a nasty cold through the corridors of TV Centre and infected programme makers and other Ivory Tower types?

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