Flipcharts in the sun
I hesitated before sharing this picture. The sight of BBC staff brainstorming the website's future in the May sunshine is probably meat and drink to some of our critics. But I want this blog to be genuinely behind the scenes and of course sometimes that means we talk about what we do and where we're going - with flipcharts.
So yesterday a few of us were at the BBC's R&D HQ to discuss the future of the site in a web 2.0 world. Those who commented last weekend can be reassured - we didn't spend all day talking about the wonders of user-generated content.
One thing worried me though. When most of us talked about what we've enjoyed doing the most on the web, so many examples were from years ago, almost a decade in some cases. Are we all a bit jaded or is this something more serious?
I'm convinced that this site is much better than it was when we did the kind of thing I said I'd enjoyed doing but there was a strong feeling that we should recapture the sense of adventure we all felt way back when.
There's a feeling in the BBC that the real innovation and "clever stuff" on the web is elsewhere. For example the most frequent suggestion was for a proper recommendations system like the really obvious Amazon-inspired idea I've previously discussed here. (Let's be clear incidentally that I claim no credit for what is now an old idea...)
However for every moan that we didn't do Flickr or Google Earth there were 10 more inspired ideas that possibly only the BBC could do - from ultra-local maps linking to the amazing depth and breadth of content to ways in which we can bring together the large amounts of people who follow a live event (which could be football or The Apprentice) via the BBC.
We didn't come to any conclusions yesterday. We still need more of our audience's thoughts so let me ask you the four questions we were trying to answer:
1. Can the BBC be part of the web and not just another site on the web? That's about better working with other sites and services to serve everyone who pays their licence fee, whether they visit bbc.co.uk or not.
2. How do we build closer relationships with so many viewers/users/listeners? One of the problems here is that we cannot reply to every email so what else should we be doing?
3. How do we introduce people to the breadth of BBC content on the web (more than folks like me saying things like this is a really nice site.
4. What new services do we need for 2009? Is there anything we should stop doing?
Over to you....