In many ways I’ve been very lucky at the BBC I’ve helped make some cool stuff – well stuff I’m proud of. But since I’ve decided to leave I’ve started to wonder what else I would have like to have made, if I had stayed at the BBC.
There’s a bit of a health warning however, these are just ideas. I’ve no real idea if they are that practical and they almost certainly don’t fit into the current strategy.
Lab UK meets so you want to be a scientist
Lab UK is the part of the BBC’s website where you can participate in scientific experiments. They’ve done some cool stuff – including Brain Test Britain which had 67,000 people sign up and resulted in a paper in Nature [pdf].
The various experiments are tied into TV programmes and this is really important because it helps generate interest and get the number of participants required to make the experiment work. However, it also means that the experiments are designed in advance, by the scientists, and the public’s role is one of test subject.
The experiments do help build knowledge but they probably don’t help people understand science.
So here’s the idea – a bit like Radio 4’s “So You Want To Be A Scientist” the process would start with people suggesting ideas, questions they would like answering, the site would need to provide sufficient support to help people refine their ideas. It might even use material from the BBC archive to help explain some of the basics but at it’s heart it would be a collaborative process.
The ideas would then be voted on and the most popular would then be taken forward. With the help of scientists the experiment would be designed and build and carried out on the Lab UK platform, giving these amateur experiments potential access to a huge audience.
The process would be a rolling series of experiments designed and carried out by the public.
History through the eyes of the BBC
The BBC makes a lot of programmes about history – but much more significantly it has been part of or at least recorded a lot of our more recent history.
So rather than making a history site about the Romans, the Victorians or whatever I would use the BBC archive to tell the history of the world as seen through the eyes of the BBC.
Combining news stories, clips from programmes (broadcast or not), music and photographs the site would tell the story of the world since 18 October 1922.
The site would chart the major political, scientific, sporting, cultural and technological events since 1922 but also the minor events – the ones that remind us of our own past.
The site would provide a page for every day, month, year and decade since the BBC came into existence as well as pages for the people, organisations and events the BBC has featured in that time.
Basically a URI for everything the BBC has recorded in the last 90 odd years.
The site would also allow members of the public to add their thoughts and memories (shared under whatever licensing terms they wish) to enrich it further to create a digital public space for the UK.