Future media and technology director at the BBC, Ashley Highfield, has further fleshed out the organisation’s plans to work with and distribute content digitally, admitting which areas are hardest and easiest to tackle and pointing towards a future web 3.0.
The BBC had been “caught a bit out of sync with audience demand” for video over the web since 2005 but it is now well-positioned, said Highfield, speaking at a Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group event yesterday.
Understandably, he spoke about initiatives such as the Beeb’s on-demand TV service iPlayer, which puts a rolling seven days’ worth of BBC TV content on tap to anyone online in the UK. A public beta will be available from 27 July and Highfield promised future versions that would allow viewing via TV sets, programme stacking and – answering some early critics – use over mobiles, Macs and PCs running Windows Vista.
The BBC’s digital archiving initiative is also a big project, in several senses, Auntie owning more archive material than any other broadcaster in the world. However, Highfield spoke about two big obstacles to this move away from old tapes: “ingesting” and rights management.
By “ingesting” he means physically transferring tapes onto digital storage. However, even allowing for all that time, there is the tricky problem of finding rights holders for old content – including estates of the dead.
The last two years, during much of the development of iPlayer, the BBC has negotiated a new rights framework that allows for seven days of old content to be called upon, 30 days for it to be viewed and an additional seven days for finishing programmes that have started to be viewed.
Highfield said: “All of that is [web] 1.0, the price of entry.”
The 2.0 bit is, in large part, how the BBC works with social media. For example, at the recent BBC/Yahoo! Hack Day developers took BBC code for the iPlayer and integrated it with social networking site Facebook.
Highfield said: “There were brilliant ideas, things we wouldn’t have done.”
He also said the BBC had earlier taken the decision not to try to create its own social networking site.
Highfield said that after web 1.0 and web 2.0, he is looking at web 3.0 – “the world of the semantic web, the internet that is intelligent”.
BBC, Web 3.0