Tag Archives: BBC

Mobile Webbys: Things are getting fun again

The mobile Webbys were announced recently and, of course, I’m excited BBC News won the People’s Choice award in the News category, but I thought I’d offer another thought I had after going through the list of nominees and winners: Things are getting fun again.

From the Webbys mobile list

From the Webbys mobile list

Games have always dominated in the app stores and as mobile downloads.  We know this.  But it looks like elements of fun and ‘play’ are edging their way into some of tools and utilities that are emerging and I think this trend is great and important.  So many of the sites and apps out there are either ‘functional’ or ‘games’ and very few of them manage to make their functionality fun in a way that isn’t distracting or annoying.  I think the apps that do this well will have a serious competitive advantage over apps that make you feel like you’re still working in the office.

I’m no stranger to foursquare – and if we’re friends on it, you’ll already know that.  Is it creepy?  A little.  But you only have to broadcast your location when you want to and to the people you want to know about it – like any other tool, I think we just need to use it wisely.  And if you use it, you can’t deny that ‘checking in’ has been made kinda fun.

I think its great that the leaderboard and badges you earn have integrated a level of play and fun into a functional city guide.  The way foursquare balances city guide functionality with social connections and fun competition is just great.  I’m curious to see what they’re doing with all the attention data and location data they’re collecting.  It must be a VERY rich data source about customers and business that’s valuable to many sectors.

And speaking of fun being woven into utility, huddle seems to be trying to leverage a brand name associated with sports and play to sell its project management app (also on the Webby’s list). Wouldn’t you rather be playing (American) football or rugby than doing project management?  Conversely, mobile stream sharing service UStream were on the Webbys list – but wouldn’t you rather play with your Kyte (one of their competitors with a more fun name)?

Geocaching is definitely a game but is another example of hardcore technology services and functionality and taking on the face of game play.  It’s been around for years (my friends Laura and Dave introduced me to it years ago in San Diego) but the app lowers the barrier to entry so nicely that I think this could make the activity alot more mainstream.  Being able to tap into users desires to feel like they’re having fun and play to get them to adopt technologies is one of the things that I think will drive the use of apps and ultimately, drive their value to users and for their creators.

Mobile connecting the unconnected world

As much as it doesn’t feel like it, alot of the world still isn’t connected via PCs and this is something I’ve had a number of conversations about lately.  The role of mobile in this space is interesting to think about.

Two weeks ago I spoke at X Media Lab in Sydney and presented the following information about BBC Online (desktop PC vs Mobile):

Alot of folks (including some internally here at the BBC) were amazed to see how different the top countries were when you look at what we do by which type of device is connecting.  It shows that there’s a massive opportunity to connect to people in the developing world via mobile.  These are people who might not have the money or access to get a nice shiny new MacBook Pro (like the one that arrived on my desk this week!) and broadband but they do have mobiles and a desire to be connected to the digital world harness the power of the network.

Another speaker at X Media Lab told me about an application in India that let’s farmers check to see what their crops are selling for in the markets near where they live so they can determine where to take their crops to get the highest profit.  Brilliant!

To respond to this, the BBC World Service has recently launched a massive number of new language-service sites – with a specific eye on reaching countries and cultures that don’t traditionally connect.  I think its great they’ve got these up and look forward to seeing how they do in the new year.  You can check them out below:

BBC Para Africa         http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/portugueseafrica/

BBC Swahili     http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/swahili/

BBC Somali      http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/somali/

BBC Hausa       http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/hausa/

BBC Great Lakes         http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/greatlakes/

And this is in addition to the other language services already on BBC Mobile:

Arabic - http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/mobile/

Hindi –  http://www.bbc.co.uk/hindi/mobile/

Indonesia - http://www.bbc.co.uk/indonesia/mobile/

Spanish - http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/movil/

Persian - http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/mobile/

Portugese - http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/celular/

Russian - http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/mobile/

Turkish - http://www.bbc.co.uk/turkce/cep/

UK China - http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukchina/simp/mobile/

Ukrain - http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukrainian/mobile/

Urdu - http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/mobile/

Vietnam - http://www.bbc.co.uk/vietnamese/mobile/

Chinese (simple) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/simp/mobile/

Chinese (traditional) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/trad/mobile/

(Sorry about the formatting – I hate the formatting controls on WordPress…)

Closer to home… I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about how these language services might also help speakers of these languages get online via their mobiles in the UK.  A large part of the ‘digital divide’ (those without PC/internet access) are non-English speakers.  And while they don’t have PCs, many of them have mobiles, so maybe the BBC providing content in their first languages will help them get online (via mobile) and get connected.

Maybe I’m too idealistic, but thinking about this makes me hope that what we’re doing is making the world at least a little bit better.

BBC Mobile: Carousel of Content

Extract from my post today on the BBC Internet Blog…

Mobile homepage carousel

Mobile homepage carousel

If you’ve looked at the BBC Mobile homepage today, you’ll have noticed we’re giving you more choices than ever. Yesterday we launched a carousel of content in our top promotion area so that you can scroll through a range of content we’re highlighting across BBC Mobile. It’s available to a limited range of handsets right now but will roll out gradually to a wider range as we develop the technology.

Read the full post here…

BBC Electric Proms Dizzee Rascal Player

BBC Mobile has announced that it will be providing exclusive content to audiences as part of BBC Electric Proms 2009.  You can check it out in the promo video below: 

To do this, our Audio & Music team worked with Dizzee Rascal to provide his fans with the chance to play his samples and mash up his songs using a mobile soundboard. The application can be downloaded from the BBC Mobile site, or accessed by texting ‘player’ to 88111, and includes samples from some of his signature tunes.

The soundboard is live now to the majority of mobile phone owners, although not every handset can be supported. This application will join elements on the mobile site introduced especially for BBC Electric Proms including exclusive interview audio, photo galleries, wallpapers, set lists and Twitter updates during the gig.

These new features, in addition to the recently introduced radio network pages and the increased personalisation aspects to the BBC mobile homepage, are all intended to enable audiences to stay connected to the BBC wherever they are.

Download your Dizzee soundboard at http://www.bbc.co.uk/electricproms/2009/mobile/

Over The Air – The Future is Mobile presentation

I spoke at Over The Air 2009 recently and have just uploaded my slides to share with the attendees and thought I’d share them with my readers too, in case you want to get a better view of what the BBC is up to on mobile and also, some of my personal predictions for what might happen in the mobile space.

 
Two highlights I wanted to pull out were my mini-analysis on what makes a good mobile app, which I’ve boiled down to:

Makes your life easier

Uses unique hardware capabilities on the device

Makes a better media experience on your device

Makes it FUN (aka GAMES)

Full details are in the slides and if you want to know more (since the talk isn’t on there), just get in touch.

The other part I wanted to highlight were my personal predictions around things that I think will unfold in the mobile space.  They are:

Mobile take centre stage as the first computing device you turn to

Everything becomes connected – clothing, toys, etc

Everything filtered via location

Mass participation and creativity will grow

Again, there’s more in the presentation but if you want to talk about any of these, or find out more, just get in touch.

I also gave a longer version of the talk at Ad-Tech London – part of London Digital Week.  If you want to see the extended version (with more details and examples of good stuff in the industry), dive in here:

Looking ahead to London 2012, the mobile Olympics

As part of the BBC Internet Blog’s day on mobile, I wrote a post about what we’ve been doing in terms of planning for the 2012 Olympics and mobile.

Here’s an excerpt and a chart from the work.  You can read the full post at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/06/looking_ahead_to_london_2012_t.html .   Please let me know what you think of the work and if you want to know more!

2012 Olympic Scenarios for Mobile

2012 Olympic Scenarios for Mobile

This is just one page from the much larger report/piece of work.

Full blog post here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/06/looking_ahead_to_london_2012_t.html

My First (and the BBC’s first) Live Twitter session

I’ve just finished talking to users of BBC Mobile live on Twitter (http://twitter.com/bbccouk)- what a neat experience – really great to have the direct conversation with them, even if some are alot more technically minded than I am.  Thank goodness for my colleagues helping me with the tough tech questions!

It’s DEFINITELY the first time I’ve done something like this and my colleaugues think it’s a first for the BBC so, to presever this momentous occasion, here’s the transcript.  It was all part of Mobile Day on the BBC Internet Blog  I guess you could call it ‘One small Tweet, for Auntie…’

(Read from bottom up.)

Twittering Live

Twittering Live

It’s been really good talking to all of you. Must sign off now. Thanks for participating – I think this has been a first! Jason less than 20 seconds ago from web

  • WhiteHi @thephazer You’re right it’s not all on the mobile site but we’re working on increasing the amount available and making it work1 minute ago from web

  • WhiteHi @rafeblandford Thanks for the feedback. Hard to know what’s going on without looking at your mobile.2 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @fafeblandford Thanks for the feedback. Hard to know what’s going on without looking at your mobile.3 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteTo @nathanmassey We’re investigating… no firm plan yet.4 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @catherinelucy Visual radio is a trial right now (a cool one, I think!) – so no firm decisions on where it will be available after trial10 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteTo @catherinelucy Best to check with TV Licencing on that…14 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @codingmonkey Re HSDPA – It works on Vodafone or 3 if you’re on their networks.15 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @codingmonkey Catchup radio coming to N95 http://bit.ly/17Q2fO15 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteTo @alaninbelfast It’s a rights issue. But you might try podcasts for time shifted radio on the go.17 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @thephazer Give our mobile site a try – its got mobile optimised video on it :) http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile18 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @catherinelucy Check out: http://bit.ly/NbUaC about TV licencing20 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @arepeejee We don’t run the networks so best to talk to your network operator directly26 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @johnsto We’re looking at what social features will give you best experience in conjunction with PC BBC iPlayer. It’s exciting!29 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @thefalken Wifi gives a better experience and a free experience – that’s important to us so we optimise for that31 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @thephazer Are you looking at the mobile specific site? Or the PC site on a mobile. News clips should work for you.32 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @allaboutiphone – See David Madden’s post: http://bit.ly/17Q2fO34 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteTo @markbridge Live radio is on iPlayer on devices that support it and podcasts and are looking at other ways to make live audio available37 minutes ago from web

  • Whiteto @stevelitchfield Best to get tech support for your router – we can’t offer tech support on routers because they’re in your home38 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteHi @liveJ We have basic minimum requirements for the devices we can put iPlayer on – if they meet those specs, then we’re considering them.40 minutes ago from web

  • Whiteto @stevelitchfield We started w/ N95 because it has large reach. We’re always looking at many other devices-but they need to have wifi too43 minutes ago from web

  • WhiteTalked to David Madden and OMA 2.0 is the most suitable right now and don’t forget we’re on iPhone and other platforms tooabout 1 hour ago from web

  • WhiteWe use standard web technologies for our streaming. We’re looking at whether we can make that work with the 3.0 iPhone softwareabout 1 hour ago from web

  • WhiteRe iPlayer on other networks – its not currently supported on all networks but we’re working with all of them to get it there.about 1 hour ago from web

  • WhiteRe mobile BBC iPlayer on Android, we see smartphones as key and want to be on as many as possible but I can’t comment on specific datesabout 1 hour ago from web

  • WhiteSorry for the delay. We had some technical gremlins.about 1 hour ago from web

  • WhiteHi everone. This is Jason DaPonte, Managing Editor of BBC Mobile here to answer your questions. #bbcmobiledayabout 1 hour ago from web

  • WhiteBBC Internet Blog: BBC iPlayer application on Nokia N95, N85 8GB and E71: I can hardly believe.. http://bit.ly/NPnFXabout 2 hours ago from twitterfeed

  • WhiteBBC Internet Blog: Getting mobile in the Blue Room: Up on the fourth floor of Broadcast Centre.. http://bit.ly/SgWKKabout 3 hours ago from twitterfeed

  • WhiteThis is a fun clip. Here’s Roland Allen in the BBC’s ‘Blue Room’: http://is.gd/YOHe (Gadgets ahoy!)about 3 hours ago from web

  • WhiteBBC Internet Blog: Jason DaPonte answering your questions live at 4pm: We hope you’re enjoying.. http://bit.ly/fyCmeabout 4 hours ago from twitterfeed
  • BBC Mobile Day – featuring… Moi.

    We’re doing a whole day on the BBC Internet Blog about BBC Mobile later this week.  I’m not going to give it away too much here but the idea is to give you a glimpse into a ‘day in the life’ of the place where I work and, if you’re interested, will be featuring some stuff written by me.

    I’m particularly excited because i’m going to be ‘Twittering live’ with users (possibly even you, gentle readers) and think this might be the first time a BBC staffer is doing this (not confirmed but I’ve been told this is the case).

    Full details are on this link and you can also submit questions you want answered:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/06/mobile_day_thursday_june_11th.html

    Customers or Shareholders? – Sir Michael Lyons talks about the BBC

    There’s alot of talk going on at the moment about the future of the TV licence fee that funds the BBC (where I work – so yes, it pays my wages).  There was a debate about freezing it in the House of Commons today.  BBC Director General Mark Thompson was recently interviewed about it in The Observer, too.

    More interesting, to me though, is the speech that the chairman of the BBC Trust (the BBC’s regulator) gave last night where he likened the public to shareholders (who want influence) in the BBC rather than customers (who just choose whether or not to buy something).  You can read the full text of his speech here.

    The good news, in my opinion, is that seems to see our audience members the same way as I do - funders who should be allowed to voice their opinions – very directly – to the BBC about what we should and shouldn’t be doing and making.  This isn’t to say they should CONTROL what we do – but they should certainly have a strong voice and an ability to communicate with us.

    What I’d have liked to have heard though, is how this could happen.  I felt the commitments he made were all good – but could have gone further.  The proposals all felt like they came out of a very linear world; where the audience can’t inform (again – not control) what’s going on.  We’re now in a world where audiences can and do expect to have a level of control with their media – and this is a growing expectation.  I’d love to see a world where the BBC pioneers a new way of maintaining its editorial quality and impact – and where it still surprises and delights its audiences – but where we give them a much stronger voice (using the direct channels digital media allows us) in what we do.

    I posted a rough proposal for how I imagined this could happen a few months ago.  I wonder if Sir Michael’s read it.  I doubt it but would love to know what he thinks.

    Lego, Imagination and Work

    Last week I was lucky enough to go on a session about using Lego as a means of facilitating creativity and/or strategy.  It wasn’t the full ‘Lego Serious Play‘ experience – but it piqued my curiosity in this and was interesting so I thought I’d share – and share some fun photos I took of the serious play we were enganged in. Serious Play is a technique that Lego have developed for using their bricks, etc in the office for, erm, work.

    The session I went to was run by the Digital Research Unit based in Huddersfield.

    The idea is that using the bricks can help people use their imaginations and using the bricks to express complex ideas and relationships in 3D, describe complicated relationships and also give you a chance to use your hands (which, in theory, helps some people engage their brains more).  They can also be used in brainstorming – and many of you saw an example of how this can be done in an exercise one of my colleagues ran a  few months ago.

    We worked through a process where we used the Lego to model our own role; then how we operate within that role; the wider organisation etc, until we built up a large model of how our roles fit together and fit into the BBC.  We also built aspects of ourself that we don’t bring to work and used these to do some introspection into how we might (or might not) change the way we operated, etc.

    The main idea was to get people to work through their individual identity, then team identity and then the wider environment/landscape their role and organisation exists in.

    My role - in Lego!

    My role - in Lego!

    How I operate in my role - In Lego!

    How I operate in my role - In Lego!

    A 'model' BBC

    A 'model' BBC

    I was really captivated by how much the Lego opened up the conversations we were having.  ‘Playing’ allowed us to put alot of our normal conversational conventions to the side and forced us to explain things in a simple way that wasn’t offensive or overly formal because we were using simple tools for explaining our ideas.  I also thought about people I work with who aren’t necessarily comfortable expressing themselves verybally who could use this as a means of showing instead of speaking.  And, best of all, building something before you explain it makes you think before you speak; and let’s face it, we could all do more of this.

    Effectively we were building stories.  Stories about who we are, where we work and how we do it.  But this storytelling could be expanded to help build stories for use in programme making or other content.  I recently read an article in Wallpaper* (which unfortunately isn’t online) about how architects are building stories and fantasy into some of the new work that’s being done in that field because they’re trying to embrace our contemporary need for more narrative experiences that blur the difference between real and fantastic.

    I think this is especially important when you work with digital media – sure everything needs to be functional and simple – but it should also delight and building this delight is the hardest part.  Sure Google search is a wonderful piece of technology, but it latched into not being ‘just another search box’ by having fun and playing with its logo.  I’d hope that in the type of work that I do, that if we start by expressing our ideas with Lego (or other manual tools for that matter) that we might capture some of the fun and fantasy that can get lost along the way.

    We’ll see how it goes.  I’ve just installed a few containers full of Lego in meeting spaces for my team to ‘play’ with…

    Some more info on Lego in the office/work environment:

    http://www.seriousplay.com/

    http://www.artlab.org.uk/lego.htm

    http://kn.theiet.org/magazine/issues/0903/lego-for-life-0903.cfm

    http://mindstorms.lego.com/eng/Tasmania_dest/Default.aspx