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BBC Ideas - short films for curious minds

James Purnell

Director, Radio & Education

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We’re launching an experiment today called BBC Ideas - short films for curious minds.

Our audiences tell us they spend a lot of time online searching for content, but don’t always use that time as productively as possible. I’m certainly like that – I can lose an hour swiping through Twitter, saving stuff but not learning anything.

BBC Ideas is an attempt to help us spend that time better, making it easier for people to find short form videos about ideas.

As part of the design process, we looked at the sort of thought-provoking articles, videos and audio people were consuming in the UK, when they were consuming it, what they liked about it and what they’d like to see more of. We then tested out our initial ideas and have tried to come up with something that fills some needs that aren’t being met, or not entirely.

We’re focusing on thoughtful content you can trust, but that’s entertaining too. We’re hoping the films might change your perspective about something you know tons about – or expose you to something completely new. We’re aiming it at the spare moments of the day – like commuting or lunchtime.

We’re going to work with partners to bring the work of some of our leading institutions and most original minds to a wider audience. We’re already working with a number of organisations on joint projects including Open University, Intelligence Squared, Nesta and UK Research and Innovation. There are likely to be more as BBC Ideas develops.

Have a browse. I’ve already started implementing Bruce Daisley’s six lessons for work life balance, though I’m going to struggle with stopping emails out of hours. You’ll also find videos from virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier and philosopher Neil Warburton as well as Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire, two of the unsung heroines of electronic music.

That’s the BBC’s role overall – great content, a trusted guide, for everyone.

As I’ve said in previous blogs, we’re taking a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach similar to digital organisations so that we’ll learn, iterate and, hopefully, grow. We’ll also be open about what’s working and not as we go along.  We don’t know where we’ll end up – Netflix started as a postal DVD service, TED as a conference on technology, education and design – and by the end of the year we’ll take stock on what BBC Ideas has achieved and whether it’s grown into the useful platform we think it can be.

But we hope you agree this is a good place to start.  We’re very proud of it and looking forward to getting your feedback.

You can see videos from BBC Ideas here and we’ll be sharing them via Twitter (@bbcideas).

James Purnell is Director Radio and Education

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