Six Common Platform projects for the next few months

posted by Steve Bowbrick

Three months into my journey round the BBC I’ve come up with a list of six projects I’d like to tackle in addition to recording stuff here on the blog and generally challenging the BBC to open up. I think it’s safe to say that not all of these projects will materialise. In fact Nick Reynolds, editor of the BBC Internet Blog and my source of wisdom and guidance here at the Beeb, will do one of his big laughs if you suggest otherwise.

If I were to identify the real runners from this list, though – the ones that I think will be picked up by BBC people and turned into real, you know, things -  they’d be number 1, the map, number 4, the Rights Lab and maybe number 5, the Openness Group. I’d also like to emphasise that I’m going to get some badges and mugs made whatever happens.

Project 1: Map of Openness at the BBC

Finding and measuring openness at the BBC.

  • Visual guide to open assets, resources, content, people etc. at the BBC. A navigation aid.
  • Underlying database: one record per asset, contains metadata about the asset and a value (or values) representing the relative openness of the asset (e.g. A big application published under the GPL gets a 5/5 value, a programme with a messageboard gets a 1/5)
  • A rating scheme that measures openness and encourages competition for higher ratings.
  • Map renders the underlying data in an interesting and useful manner: a Tube map, a heatmap, a poster, a geotagged overlay for a UK map.
  • A set of badges that can be carried by qualifying assets (“We’re on the map”).
  • Alternative renderings are possible: a game-like interface might be possible: an ARG? Tron-style fly-through. Accessible, public, open…
  • An API providing access to the data for others to model and to encourage similar thinking elsewhere.

Project 2: From the future

We solicit stories told in the past tense from the perspective of a time in the future (a fixed time? Ten years? 50?) on the theme of openness.

  • No prescribed format: text, comicbook, audio, video…
  • No prescribed genre: sci-fi, literary fiction, ‘non-fiction’…
  • A published mine of narratives that capture the possibilities, both good and bad, for openness at the BBC.

Project 3: Festival of the Future (Festival of Openness)

  • A strand in the Electric Proms for next year.
  • A standalone festival of content in all forms that celebrates and exemplifies openness.
  • A trial project for an open commissioning model.

Project 4: Rights Lab

BBC rights experts, content creators and geeks from across the corporation working to reinvent rights:

  • Researching the value of open (and open-ish) rights models for BBC stakeholders, particularly licence fee-payers.
  • Cataloguing and rating the open licencing models that are available. Deciding which are most applicable to the BBC’s public service goals.
  • Designing and testing new rights models
  • Proposing and helping to design rights frameworks, platforms and tools for use at the BBC
  • Communicating findings and best practice to others
  • Running a UK ‘open rights forum’ for groups and individuals outside the BBC

Project 5: Openness Group

All the BBC’s openness nuts in one place. A informal group with a monthly forum supported by management but with no formal brief:

  • A programme of events: speakers, demos, movies and happenings in support of openness.
  • A source of expertise and opinions about openness for the BBC and others.
  • A lobbying group, a repository of wisdom and experience.
  • A cross-departmental, cross-disciplinary, cross-media meeting place for openness advocates.
  • A place where people can argue about openness.
  • A web site, a code repository, a library of openness texts and standards.
  • A physical space with sofas and beanbags.

Project 6: Promoting openness

Entertaining materials that communicate the openness message and encourage people to get with the programme:

  • Desk stuff: mugs, badges and calendars and cards that say: “THINK OPEN” and provide coordinates for further learning.
  • Check lists and crib sheets: how to be open. How to incorporate openness into your TV programme/web site/policy/application (delete where not applicable)
  • A page on Gateway (natch).
  • A blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/openness

Comments so far.

  1. Posted by Glyn on Wednesday 3rd December

    Have you talked to the people from the Open Rights Group yet?

  2. Posted by Alan in Belfast on Wednesday 3rd December

    Interesting ideas.

    Would Project 5 not be more open and inclusive if you dropped the last point – the “physical space with sofas and beanbags”.

    Not that the possibility of a real space is bad, would its very existence not be likely to mean it becomes the default water cooler for open-nerds to come together and be open with each other. And that bias will discourage anyone else in the organisation at a different postcode from contributing?

  3. Posted by cping500 on Thursday 4th December

    Just to say that lots of none license players worldwide have asked for a subscription service.which is not free but ‘open’
    And please include the walk round ways users have found of breaking in.

  4. Posted by Michael Walsh on Friday 5th December

    I envisage meetings about meetings on ALL of them.


    My money is on them doing NONE of them! :-)

  5. Posted by Steve Bowbrick on Saturday 6th December

    @Michael Walsh Bet you a tenner!

  6. Posted by Michael Walsh on Saturday 6th December


    You’re on!

    This is one bet I would be delighted to lose!

  7. Posted by Michael Walsh on Tuesday 3rd March

    Any update Steve?


  8. Posted by Blogger In Residence Brain Dump « Nick Reynolds At Work on Saturday 14th March

    [...] Steve came up with lots and lots of good ideas. The trouble was choosing which ones to do. We had the rights lab in the diary three times and had [...]

  9. Posted by PDA’s Newsbucket | Richard Hartley on Tuesday 11th October

    [...] hangs in balance >> Guardian• Six Common Platform projects for the next few months>> BBC Common Platform• Icahn says opposes partial sale of Yahoo >> Reuters• A look inside a Facebook for the [...]

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