BBC2 is currently producing of a series of 4 one hour documentaries about the World Wide Web (next year it is the Web’s 20th anniversary!) – to be broadcasted early 2010. But for me the real news is: the BBC has decided to experiment and to involve the web community in this project. How?
Well… they call it an ‘open source documentary’: “It is our ambition to open up the production process as much as possible; to share as much of our thinking as possible, as the production team strive to create a cohesive, accurate and relevant documentary about the World Wide Web. We’ll be blogging as we go; we’ll share our theories; we’ll be putting up rushes from the filming; we’ll be asking for advice and stories from you as we go along.” (quote from the programme’s blog).
From what I understand during pre-production the BBC is in constant communication mode with “us” (blogging, twittering, youtubing, deliciousing… you name it) and in exchange we can come back with ideas, comments, interviews… but more importantly STORIES (“tell us the stories you think we should be covering”, they say in their website). So… in a way: we help them while they inform us. This is up to a point an interactive process: we are in contact, but is it really an open source dynamic? Our stories suggestions do not directly change the programme (we are not adding a layer of code to a software) and more importantly we do not know how our suggestion will be used (contrary to what happens to an open source software where any change has been designed by its author to do a precise task). What is happening here is that the control stays in the hand of the BBC: what we suggest is considered by a producer that has the power to do what he/she likes with it. I might be over critical here… but more than an open source documentary this resembles to a partially freely researched documentary!
Obviously the fact that BBC is involving “web people” while documenting the web is laudable… for such a big corporate it is a courageous decision… but the risks are still very much under control, to the point that I wonder how much this open source documentary is a marketing trick more than a real shift of thinking. Brett Gaylor, the creator of opensourcecinema.org, has been experimenting for years now on ways for people to collaborate online towards the common production of a documentary. RIP: a remix manifesto is the result of people sharing footage, remixing other people’s rushes and re-editing material over the web. Brett’s idea is to open up the entire process of the film production… and not only to ask its potential audience for good ideas…
The BBC too promises to make their rushes available online… but where are they? I have been looking for the rushes of programme one, the first been produced that, following the published schedule, should start its editing on the 28th of September. Now… it is today the 17th of September… I can’t find them… either I am thick, or they are well hidden, or maybe they will be published at the last minute… but if they do not publish them before editing the final programme… how are we supposed to deeply “influence” or “collaborate” in the production process?
Maybe the BBC has some hidden ideas that will make its project a little bit more open sourced – and a little less free sourced…
To be honest though, there is one line on the programme’s blog that seems to suggest that there will also be a parallel interactive documentary: ” your input, your comments, and your links will be read by the production team and will shape the direction the story takes. And everything will be part of our online interactive documentary that launches alongside programme transmission” (quote from the programme’s blog). What will be the shape, form and intention of such online project is quite mysterious… and definitively unclear (but definitively exciting, don’t get me wrong!).
I am really curious to see how this BBC project will evolve and, since I already have too many questions about it, I think I will address them directly to the production team. Actually, if they could use the web tools, and comment directly on my blog’s entry, it would be a great clin d’oeil to the topic of their programme!
Stay posted, you will maybe have some answers soon…
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009