No sooner than a couple of days after I joined BBC News Interactive, Mark Thompson announced a pretty fundamental shift in the emphasis of the BBC. As usual with these types of announcements, it was high on rhetoric and low on detail. Many of us were left scratching our heads wondering what the impact of this change would be - especially when we realised there are a number of caveats to this change.
There's simply no way you can get all the technologist's in one room together - many parts of the Beeb (including News Interactive) thrive on the close relationship with the producers and journalists.
So what does this change mean? Well, from what I can gather it will make the BBC more accountable in the digital age. Ashleigh Highfield will be able to count the beans more accurately and report back to the press. Whilst us designers, coders and product managers can expect better training, more recognition and the chance to spread our skills and experiences across to other parts of the BBC. Basically, streamlining the BBC's efforts into a more manageable and accountable process. Hopefully we won't be seeing yet more content management solutions (currently we have over 20 across the BBC), but less as we capitalise on the best solutions we already have available.
I for one, was incredibly impressed with Ashley Highfields speech. I think its the first time I have heard a major BBC speech which referred to designer's rather than content producer's on no less than 5/6 occasions. Its about time the pendulum has swung our way - there's so much designers can do for the BBC right now. We deserve this recognition. I see this moment as something similar to when Steve Jobs put his faith into Jonathan Ive at Apple.
One of the most heart warming things I heard Mark Thompson say was (and I'm paraphrasing), 'this is my vision for the BBC and if you don't like it, you will be asked to leave'. A slap in the face for the perpetually cynical and a green light for positive do'ers with interpersonal skills to match. Maybe there is more Greg Dyke in Mark Thompson than we previously thought...nice.