At the Picnic in Amsterdam — which, sadly, I couldn’t attend because of various duties — Matt Locke, head of innovation at BBC Future Media and Technology, sings sweetly to this pew in the choir about the real structure of media. The Guardian’s Mark Sweney blogs it:
The good news is that the BBC turned out to be the most commonly referenced big brand [in blogs].
The bad news is that just 0.3% of the millions of blog posts analysed referred to the BBC.
What does this all mean? It means that what the BBC does, creating programmes, is just a tiny ‘atom’ in the new media world and how on earth can you grow that 0.3%?
The likes of YouTube and blogs equal cheap forms of production of content.
You can’t ‘own’ all the relationships audiences have in the web world so the best plan is to ‘atomise’ content, disintegrate, to ‘explode’ into places where they are.
Amen, brother. I said sometime ago that media is not about owning content or distribution. It is about relationships. And Locke is quite right: relationships are also not something to be owned. Sweney continues:
Here we go, he has four rules/lessons/options for large media companies, this ought to be interesting. Hmmm, I seem to have come out of it with 5 – perhaps one is an example.
1. The BBC is not making programmes it is making ‘atoms’, tiny elements going everywhere in the digital landscape. The controversial Creative Archive is an attempt to “unlock” elements, “atomise the archive”.
2. Decentralising production. BBC Backstage project. Not to get too techy but this seems to be where clever people are allowed to create applications. One chappy created a system that tailored the BBC news output into “moods” – good or bad – by scanning for key words such as ‘festival’. 90 have been built in the last year and some might get commissioned.
3. Host successful sites and communities and don’t try and re-invent the wheel by doing a “me too” MySpace or YouTube. They are already out there so provide content and engage with them. . . .
4. Be an aggregator. Like the MTV guy said yesterday TV channels can be aggregators. Example: Radio 1 site pulling in content that refers to the radio brand from the likes of Flickr and YouTube. . . .
5. Don’t panic. Linear TV is not disappearing. Broadcasters just need to take different strategies and roles in different media. Example: Creating a virtual festival complete with streaming video footage within Second Life of an event held in the real world.
I had coffee this week with Richard Sambrook, the BBC’s director of global news and world service, just to compare notes. I come away from encounters with the BBC impressed that even with its gargantuan size and leaden history, culture, and structure, it is still able to innovate and explode assumptions. Contrast this with the talk among American newspaper companies in a post I’ll put up shortly. You won’t hear them talking in such blunt terms about the fundamental change in media.