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Inspiring innovation with BBC Audio & Music Interactive

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick | 08:30 UK time, Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Moyles and Obama

UPDATE: yesterday's BBC Audio & Music Interactive (A&Mi) departmental meeting, held in the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House, was an unusual one. It had a single theme, suggested by staff - 'innovation' - and we ran the whole thing much more openly than usual:

  • Attendees were encouraged to tweet publicly throughout - providing a kind of running commentary for the event. Two sessions - during which management discussed issues of obvious sensitivity for staff - the BBC's strategic review and proposed pension changes, for instance - were flagged as 'not for tweeting' - and this was respected. Switching from 'open' to 'closed' during the course of the meeting seems to work, although I'd anticipate some disagreement about this for future meetings!
  • I publicised a nice, short hashtag (#amint) and many people who weren't at the meeting used it to contribute comments, questions and suggestions.
  • I provided a 'real-time' commentary on the meeting here on the blog (using live chat software from Candian company Cover it Live which is widely used for live events at the BBC and elsewhere). Click 'Replay' above to see all the comments and tweets from the event.
  • We also used an SMS shortcode (we borrowed Radio 3's, since it wasn't in use for the duration of the meeting) for staff to send in questions and comments. In the end it wasn't used seriously and I didn't publish any of the comments that came in - all the action was on Twitter. I think it's probably worth keeping the SMS element for future events, though, since it's good for anonymous contributions.
  • In addition to publishing the whole conversation here on the blog, much of the chatter was visible to Twitter users following the hashtag - and we threw it up onto a big screen in the Radio Theatre too (with the expected hilarity and potential for distraction). Immediate feedback on this part was that it made the meeting a bit more fun. It certainly felt more inclusive to have participants' views scrolling down the screen in full view (and using Cover it Live to 'curate' tweets neutralised the now well-understood risks inherent in automatically publishing tweets!).
  • Many of the morning's 'breakout' sessions took place in the offices of interesting businesses around Central London - from Media Trust to The Telegraph - and attendees were encouraged to keep tweeting from these sessions - hosts also joined in - click 'Replay' to see their contributions (and here's the full running order).
  • As to practicalities: getting dozens of people onto the specially-provided wifi was a challenge so I retreated to a network-connected computer in the control booth to type my commentary and this meant I couldn't use Cover It Live's very neat iPhone app to control things from my seat in the auditorium. On the big screen in the theatre we displayed the conversation using Cover it Live itself and some very handsome word clouds from Visible Tweets. We'd love to have been able to display a dynamic wordcloud - one that updated as we tweeted - but couldn't find a service that would do that.
  • A final round-up at the end of the morning (Radio 1 creative Hugh Garry talking to Controller Mark Friend - someone tweeted "It's Jedward!"), back in the Radio Theatre, brought all the themes together and used the morning's tweets as material: they form an interesting and permanent (although obviously partial) record of the meeting and it strikes me they're a bit like the forest of sticky notes usually left behind after any kind of corporate meeting these days.

If you joined in, or just watched proceedings from the side, do leave a comment to let us know what you thought? Is opening BBC meetings in this way valuable? Should we do more? Would you like to see more everyday meetings opened up? Would you watch a video stream if we published one?

Credits: the event was produced by Alan Phillips and Clare Bousfield and Richard Morland made most of the interactivity happen. Vox pop videos shown at the meeting were shot by Clare and Siddharth Khajuria.

Steve Bowbrick is blogs editor at BBC Audio & Music

  • The picture shows Radio 1 producer Laura May Coope presenting the network's Facebook figures. It was taken by Sam Bailey.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Is this the meeting where they will finally release iPlayer for iPad?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi fred, Not that meeting in fact. The BBC Trust has just cleared the way for BBC Radio to create some iPhone apps, though, and I guess they'll work on iPad. Here's a story about it from the Telegraph.

    Steve Bowbrick, blogs editor, BBC Audio & Music

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorry I just posted in the wrong place, (Internet Blogs or something?) - perhaps that shows how the BBC web sites are seen by many as very complicated to understand (?), but I digress, so here goes again:

    As a former BBC employee (25+ years) and still working in radio technology, but now an outsider, I really cannot see what the objective of #amint was or what deliverables you have generated by this exercise? Clearly it had big interactivity - but did all the tweeting simply distract from further innovation, by simply being a "this is what we did" exposition? In particular, I am completely missing any sense that there is now an objective to do things "universally" for the whole audience - it seems to me that things have moved way to far into the domain of special things for a small, small minority of very techie people, rather than a big majority of ordinary folk, who pay their licences!

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    On the subject of players available to the UK license payer, I made a few comments in another blog.

    Subject matter originally refers to Flash LSO's.

    I questioned.....

    For a UK user, who does not own a Television (new era of digital content watchers), and does own a computer, they are forced to pay a license fee because the computer is capable of viewing the content.

    However that user does not want to agree to ANY third party agreements.

    What player does the BBC allow that user to use to justify his/her forced expenditure of a licence fee?

    Any open source trusted players?

    Could VLC be used which supports every codec under the sun?

    Or are we being railroaded by the BBC giving no other choice but to have to agree to third party privacy agreements?

    Flash and its multitude ways of tracking the user (along with new technology in the form of ActionSource (not actionscript please note) after Adobe bought Omniture), renowned for being unreliable with its settings manager which is little know, and always lagging behind the game regards security, Adobe will only fix what affects them negatively, not the user.

    IPlayer, though tailored for UK users still has an agreement which includes third parties

    Others may regard those concerns as paranoia, but on a persons own computer it is for that person to decide what they are comfortable with.

    So to view any BBC content any user given the current options has no other course of action but to agree to a third party policy.

    Railroaded.

    Otherwise that user is still forced by law to pay the license fee for content he/she cannot view - IE paying for nothing but the shiny derrieres wages who do not give a flying fig for the UK license payer, because its enforced by law.

    In the above blog can someone also explain this...

    "This new adaptive bitrate system, coupled with Adobe's upcoming Flash 10.1 release with H.264 hardware acceleration"

    How exactly is the IPlayer coupled with Flash?

    Original posts for anyone interested before I start writing letters are here....
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/06/lso_flash_cookies_and_media_pl.html

    I would vote in favour of VLC player, with its activex for Internet Explorer, Mozilla plugin, also compatible with google chrome and more importantly also compatible with other development forks of the same browser respecting user privacy - And VLC is open source.
    http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

  • Comment number 7.

    JSButler - I think you are off topic. Please stay on topic. Thanks.

  • Comment number 8.

    I was watching amint from the sidelines.

    It was tricky at times to work out what was going on - although the tweetstream was interesting, it doesn't really serve as a replacement for a dedicated liveblog, and I don't think it's necessarily helpful for the two to be comingled.

    If there's going to be another (or similar) one in the future, I'd suggest that...

    1) Have somebody liveblogging the event, and keep the blog distinct from the stuff that people are saying out in Twitter-land (though by all means reference it and link to a page showing it). Who actually does that is a different matter (and complicated slightly by side-by-side break-outs). Whatever your opinions of the subject matter, Ars Technica covers live stuff (in this case WWDC 2010) very well.

    2) Post the line-up as something other than a photo on Flickr. You might even want to consider a wiki of some kind for this, with each session having a page that people can contribute notes to, and so on. Again, complicated by internal-only vs. public sessions, but not insurmountable.

    The thing here is that if you're at the event, you don't need a blog to tell you what's going on - the conversation surrounding it is useful by itself. If you're not, though, you do need something vaguely structured -- distinct from the chatter -- which tells you what's (supposed to be) going on.

    Even without all of that, though, I could see some very interesting stuff being talked about!

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 and #8

    Hi Bev MARKS and Mo,

    My feeling is that while the replay of the Twitter stream catches some of the momentum of the live event it's not the easiest way of picking out interesting stuff after the event. A few weeks ago A&M did ask me to do a live blog of the day but I was away at the time. I guess the short answer is next time there should be both a blog and the Twitter stream available.

    Cheers

    Paul

 

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