We asked the Executive Editor of Knowledge & Learning Online, Chris Sizemore and, the Head of Commissioning at BBC History, Martin Davidson to tell us about the Story of Now.
Can you tell us about the origins of Story of Now?
We decided back in November 2013 to test the idea with a stand-alone pilot, something that took the Touchcast interactive video tool deep into traditional specialist factual content. We wanted to explore the role that this new interactive format might play across BBC online.
It looks and feels completely new, but did any other projects help inspire it?
My thought was to follow up on a series we made some years ago, A History of the World, which was presented by Andrew Marr. We thought we could take the initial categories used in that series and use them as a spine for an explorable web of interactive Touchcast videos. We set out to look at what had to happen - over the entire history of life, if not the cosmos to explain how we got to now.
That is a huge subject!
Yes it is, the result has been twenty Interactive videos that explore somewhat in the manner of an interactive TED Talk various elements of this. The nature of time; the origins of life; of language; of perception, etc. Ideally, we can carry on adding to this 'spine' indefinitely...
What were you trying to achieve?
We're exploring the potential of interactive storytelling that sits in the gap between video games and regular, linear TV shows. This pilot obviously doesn't bridge that gap but it does experiment with interactivity on a high end, specialist factual production.
We wanted to look at what levels of interaction works, to find out what is the right amount. What it also does is to help bridge the cultures of digital and TV. That's one for us in the BBC, but if we can find out the best ways to make that work it could get very interesting.
What do you want to learn from it?
That there is genuine scope and variety of ways we can deliver online content and high-end specialist factual is the perfect genre with which to do it. We want to know more about the interactivity; is it distracting, invading or liberating. Is it clear what that people should touch or click things.
It all depends what the audience thinks of it. We would explore how it could be improved, and if it's a success we would commission more. It could be an iWonder guide for example.
So you'll see what people think on Taster?
Exactly. Yes, Taster is a great way to get feedback.