BBC – understand, participate in and influence

Inform, educate and entertain was the old Reithian view of the BBC. Whilst continuing to be a worthwhile mission, it does sound a little ‘paternal’ or top-down for today’s world. It was refreshing to hear a new personal view of what the BBC needs to do today from Seetha Kumar – online access champion and controller BBC Online – in a presentation at BBC Wales I attended yesterday. In response to a question, she repeated this paragraph from her presentation to the Skills for Life conference on 3 November:

Seetha Kumar. Picture copyright BBC“The Reithian tradition of inform, educate and entertain is as true today as it was over 80 years ago. In the world of the internet, and e-skills, the skills for life we all need are the abilities to understand, participate in and influence the world around us. How else do you make sense of it?” – Seetha Kumar (my bold)

What I like about the second and third elements of this definition is that they throw the light of activity, not passivity, on the people the BBC has traditionally thought of as its ‘audience’. It’s a definition that draws its influence from principles of media literacy. My personal opinion is that by facilitating participation and the ability to influence, the BBC will make an important strategic change that will benefit the UK’s citizens.


This is a site by BBC Wales with personal stories by 14-25 year olds. In PS, you can submit and watch videos categorized Health, Entertainment, Education, Religion, News & Politics, Environment, Love & Sex, Animals, Race & Culture, Crime & Violence, Business & Economy, Sports, Life, Drugs & Alcohol, Science & Technology, Community & Society and Other.

There’s an embeddable widget on the site with the latest comments and stories, so I thought I’d embed it here on the Aberth Digital Storytelling blog.

Participatory Video Facebook group

George Metaxiotis sent me an invite from Greece today to join the PV:RF Participatory Video Facebook group. It’s described as “a networking forum for anyone involved in participatory video research – especially community based research.” So I wanted to share the link with you here:
The group’s only three months old but it already looks like a good way to link up with PV projects around the world. E.g. Chris Blythe posted a wall message about his ‘Inspired Productions’ in New Zealand/Aotearoa:

“We’re developing our work to include drama and music media. Current project is supporting refugee youth from Burma and Bhutan to produce content for our national museum, Te Papa.”

Free presentation: Sustaining and Developing Island Communities

Wed 2 Dec 09, 1 pm at the Tramsheds Building, Glyntaff Campus, University of Glamorgan, Treforest, Mid Glamorgan.

Prof Do Coyle of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, presents ‘Sustaining and Developing Island Communities: Extreme Measures for Extreme Communities’.

This presentation is about ‘extreme’ communities where the digital infrastructure is lacking.  Prof Dyle will look at different kinds of community building in isolated places to enable connection and be connected. He’ll also tell the story of Telling Tales and I-Scape.

This is a free session but attendeees need to reserve their place by emailing

This is the first of the University of Glamorgan’s George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling Communities 2.0 research seminars.  Communities 2.0  is a Welsh Assembly Government programme which helps community groups, voluntary organisations and social enterprises in Wales do more with technology.  It’s delivered by five partner organisations – the Wales Co-operative Centre, the Novas Scarman Trust, Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services, Carmarthenshire County Council and the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at the University of Glamorgan.  Much of the funding for Communities 2.0 has come from the European Regional Development Fund.

RTS Innovation Awards 2009

BBC iPlayer won the main Judges’ Award at last night’s RTS Innovation Awards.
I was there with Karen Lewis because BBC Digital Storytelling had been nominated in the user generated content category along with Channel 4’s Landshare and The Sex Experience. Landshare won in this category.

It was great to see Karen Lewis for the first time since DS4. Since leaving the BBC, she’s set up StoryWorks at the University of Glamorgan and doing some really exciting work  with Communities 2.0 and with people who have cancer at Velindre Hospital, Cardiff, and much more.

Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman watch digital stories

Gareth Morlais and Karen Lewis

RTS logo

At the RTS, the most interesting award from the point of view of participatory media was Sky News iPhone Application, which won the On The Move category:

“The jury reported they loved this application – it is clear, effective, offers excellent video quality and is highly rated among those who use it. It will be fascinating, they commented, to see how Sky fully exploits the development’s sharing capacity that allows viewers to connect to Sky and submit their own eyewitness or user-generated material.”

It’s great to hear of a broadcaster making an application which encourages contribution like this.

There’s a list of all the winners on the RTS website.

The awards at BAFTA Picadilly were hosted by Jeff Henry, Brent Hoberman, Martha Lane Fox and David Lowen.