BBC’s Outreaching Events

Last week, BBC organised two events to invite outsiders to their new Salford Quays home where Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport, BBC Breakfast and CBBC MediaCity’s will be / have started utilising the terrific new facilities – one was the BBC Future Media Women’s Networking Event on 14 September 2011 and the other was the BarCamp MCUK over the weekend 17-18 September. I was at both events and was happy to see the efforts BBC is making to engage with wider groups of creative media workers, especially women.

The Women’s Networking Event was especially hailed as I observed a dominance of male developers / creative workers at the BarCamp (evidenced by the photos from BarCampMCUK below, and I was told that only 22% employees at BBC are women).

BarCampMCUK opening

BBC’s Victoria Jaye (Head of IPTV & TV Online) and Mary McCarthy (Executive Product Manager) shared their experiences of working at the BBC. They both valued the opportunities of being able to work with a diverse range of talents at the BBC (moving from department to department like a corporate nomad) and to develop and utilise cutting-edge technologies to deliver high-quality content to inform, educate and entertain audiences in the UK and also around the world. From their discussion, it is clear that the future of media requires a pool of diverse talents, and the good communication and collaboration between those who have programming / engineering / technical skills and storytellers / content creators is crucial. I’m pleased to hear that BBC builds such co-operation protocols in their production processes by embedding technical experts in an editorial team (content producers), or vice versa, in order to engineer the best products. Understanding user experiences and satisfying their requirements is also becoming a central part of BBC Future Media. As such, not only software engineers or web developers are on demand, so are business analysts, test engineers, quality assurance test analysts, manual test engineers.

The one and only BarCamp MCUK also provided a good opportunity to learn not only from BBC staff but also other creative people across the country.

Opening of BarCamp MCUK, 17 September 2011
BarCamp MCUK participants 17 Sep 2011
BarCamp MCUK participants 17 Sep 2011

For example, I was intrigued by the presentation about how children played games online by BBC Children’s Jon Howard (see photos below).

BBC Children's Jon Howard presenting at BarCamp MCUK on 17 Sep 2011

I watched Doctor Who live at the Doctor Who space at the BarCamp. I was very much entertained by the talk “Formula for a Perfect life” which featured a range of equations / formulas describing the portions and relationships between crucial elements that constitute some good things in life (e.g., formula for a perfect pancake, the infamous formula developed by Cliff Arnall that identifies 17 January as the most depressing day of the year), nonsense disguised in (psudo-)scientific languages. The quiz show (powered by Google, resembling CCCamp‘s Hacker Jeopardy, only with a Mancunian twist) after dinner was also fun. I played Kinect for the very first time. I also played my first Werewolves game (party game) with the other 26 something people who stayed very late / overnight at the BarCamp. It was a good way of passing the long, sleepless night (it turned out that the Quay House is a non-sleeping building and whoever closed their eyes for more than a second would be woken up by the security guards patrolling the floor and monitoring people with their eagle-like eyes).

Despite the no-sleeping challenge, I still had a good time at the BarCamp MCUK. The 5th floor of BBC Quay House is a great space for networking and social learning events like BarCamp. I envy BBC staff for having such a space with great views and clever designs.

I hope there will be many more events like these two to come in the near future!

More on BarCampMediaCity: blog entry by Ian Forrester, #bcmcuk.

BBC Quay House 5th Floor - graffiti is legal!
BBC Quay House 5th Floor - writing and drawing on the wall is allowed! You won't be panelised for producing graffiti!
BBC Quay House 5th Floor - Walls that are designed for graffiti

Graffiti by the BarCamp MCUK participants

A video on this BarCampMediaCity from the BBC


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