[thinks – should have worked at a red top.]
Spent a great day at the BBC Labs in Masham, Yorkshire, yesterday courtesy of Matt, working with the various teams and mentors who were finalising their propositions. It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time, being around a lot of creative technologists under pressure to produce something of value. But more than this hot-housing environment it was really refreshing to be around people who just wanted to make things, sure they were talking about some of the latest memes and mash-up stuff but they had their feet firmly on the ground producing something rather than jumping on an idea because of its faddish currency. Doing stuff is so satisfying.
As a sausage machine for innovation the BBC lab is a particularly nice one: pleasant surroundings, 5* accomodation and high ceilings. Not that you need plush surroundings to make beautiful things, but it must help. We’ll see.
The lab reminded me of my first year at the BBC in 2000 when Frank Boyd, [Artec, AudioRom] who ran this lab, ran the first ever BBC Interactive Lab and I was invited on it by BBC Current Affairs where we produced an interative TV programme [what now would be termed enhanced TV] called "Interactive Pope" [it sucked]. But the lab was fantastic – a coming together of a great many different skills, abilities and attitudes and booze. This was a similar, if far more sober, affair reflecting our more New Labour, puritanical times and perhaps a more ‘serious’ BBC.
I think there’s a model here in these labs that AudioRom were pushing in the late 1990s that is so now. There are more technologists that are able to make things quickly, creatively and the landscape is more stable on which to build. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more institutions/collectives outside of those zany folk in San Fransisco ‘doing’ labs in the next year or two in the UK. It’s a great, cost effective, way to reach out and innovate.