reboot or not to reboot

Posted on 30 April 2006 in BBC (No comments)

I've been watching reboot:bbc.co.uk (a competition launched last week for people to submit their ideas of how they'd redesign the bbc.co.uk homepage) - especially as I had (a rather small) contribution to the homepage myself. Just before Christmas 2000 I did a recode of it, which ultimately didn't go live. But then in the autumn 2002 I was in charge of putting that little box on the homepage from where you can put in your postcode and get localised content. Of course since then, I've had zero to do with it, but there's a hint of past ownership in there.

So I found it rather sad to read that so early on in the project, the team running the competition have had to start defending it, in one of their first blog posts - We want to reboot, not rip-off!.

It seems that some people just don't trust the BBC not to rip off ideas - the blog post directly replies to comments about the BBC trying to do multi-million pound rebrands on the cheap, that the BBC has teams of designers that could do this, and it's just an attempt to rip the community off on the cheap. Hence the post - putting it staight.

Given that the BBC has historically had a public perception in some quarters that "Auntie knows best" - that it dictates rather than listening to people. It's one of the more regular complaints I see whilst lurking around the Point's of View message board. Which is why I really find it rather depressing that as soon as the BBC starts opening up, some people then go on the other side and are so suspicious over the motives.

I know in a way it's inevitable. That the BBC can never win in so many ways. If it's documentaries are too highbrow no one watches them, yet if they're accessible and watched, well it's dumbing down. If it does a
story about one political party, it's clearly biased to either that party of another. If it's too closed and never listens, then it's arrogant, but if it's open and listens, then it's doing market research on the cheap, or, as in this case, getting other people to do its monkey work.

Of course that's all simplification, but it's the kind of simplification that the argument comes down to, which niggles and annoys me. When I see people trying to do things that I feel passionate that the BBC should be doing, and then see others people start lining up the guns, you can't help feel a bit gutted. Still far far better to try and do these things, and get critisims for it (and indeed to respond to those critics) than to just sit in the comfort zone and never do anything.

To end on a positive thought, I'm really looking forward to seeing what people do with reboot:bbc.co.uk - what they suggest, what they come up with. And even more, how that might influence bbc.co.uk in the future. Now I wonder what a reboot:BBCi would come up with...

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