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beebac - Knowledge Networks, Academia and the BBC

Brendan Crowther Brendan Crowther | 10:57 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009

I've been part of the team working on the knowledge exchange programme between the AHRC and BBC for over three years now. We're keen to support further collaboration between the BBC and academia beyond our pilot funding call so for the last eighteen months I've been involved in the development of a new knowledge network that allows BBC staff, academics and media professionals to share ideas and resources.

The best ideas come from combining different skills and points of view. Often the most valid contribution comes from those with a standpoint outside the core area of interest - insights that elude those standing closer to their subject matter. In short, different points of view lead to good conversations. To facilitate a model of collaboration between academia, the BBC and the wider media industry that reflects this philosophy we've created beebac.

beebac is a space where academics and media professionals can find people and projects that interest them. It is a network for BBC staff, academics and industry partners. It enables you to find people and projects you want to be involved with, explore areas of mutual interest and exchange ideas and resources. You can explore subjects that interest you by joining the relevant groups on the network or set up your own topics of discussion and invite others to join you. There are graded levels of privacy that allow you to choose who you share your information with and a powerful search engine that prioritises results by people and subject matter so you can find what interests you. There are a number of different ways of sharing and messaging other users that protect your privacy while allowing you to gain the benefits of working collaboratively
From a BBC perspective beebac is about having continued access to a massive community of professionals whose jobs are dedicated to studying the relationship between media, society and culture. It is also about exploring the responsibilities we have as a public service broadcaster that stretch beyond simply our output. From an academic point of view it's about getting access to the vast store of data that broadcasters have to offer and the opportunity to converse with media professionals who are in a position to make real use of research findings. From all angles it's about the opportunities afforded by networking with likeminded individuals and working in a truly cross-disciplinary manner. beebac is also the online home for the AHRC/BBC Knowledge Exchange Programme. We'll use the site to keep you up to date with everything related to the KEP, highlight upcoming events and funding calls and point you to other places on the web that we think are doing interesting things.

Funding calls provide one framework around which collaboration can take place but they are not necessarily the only way that it can be supported, or the most sustainable. If the BBC is going to continue to work in conjunction with academia it is important to start building a community that can sustain itself and direct members to topics of interest as well as other like-minded individuals.

beebac is currently in beta testing and you can sign up here. Once you've received your authorisation email head to The Hub for up to date information on everything that's new on the network and beyond. beebac is a pilot project and it would be great to get the community to a stage where we can assess whether this model of collaboration between the BBC, the media industry and academia has a future. Please feel free to drop me a line once you're signed up.



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