Network: Mission: Save Virtual Society after a Series of Blunders, BBC Online Called in the Experts for Advice . Tamsin Todd Was There
Todd, Tamsin, The Independent (London, England)
BBC Online, the UK's most visited site, has taken a good bit of bashing in recent months. Detractors have criticised the site for its lack of original content, arguing that its listings, information pages and news - and its programming-related chat groups - are little more than unnecessary adjuncts to the corporation's traditional broadcasting services. (The award-winning online news service is a different site.) Last Thursday, however, the BBC showed a new commitment to developing its online programming. At a BBC-sponsored conference called Online Communities in the UK, BBC staff and representatives from a variety of public and commercial organisations discussed how websites such as BBC Online can educate and help the formation of communities, both on and off-line.
The BBC said that the aim of the conference was to "create a framework for discussion and to share expertise and experience in a spirit of mutual co-operation across the industry". But for all its talk of sharing, BBC Online was doing more listening than talking. BBC staff were out in force to listen to the keynote address, given by Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community.
Rheingold discussed his experiences as a founding member of the pioneering virtual community, The Well, and his vision of the civic role that virtual communities can play in the future. Other speakers included cyberspace barrister Alistair Kelman and Mark Frost of Capital Radio (and formerly of BBC Online). Representatives from commercial sites such as Yahoo!, Virgin, and AOL were among the attendees. In his welcome talk, Nigel Chapman, the director of BBC Online, made it clear that the BBC is thinking about how it can translate its public service values to the Internet. He said that the BBC aims to use the Internet to create a better relationship with licence-fee payers. "The Internet allows us to bring the BBC closer to people's lives and to make ourselves more accountable," he said. In addition, he said that by creating community forums on the Internet, the BBC can "act as a catalyst for all kinds of debate across the UK". Current BBC-operated virtual communities include a popular EastEnders forum, but upcoming forums are of a more …
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Publication information: Article title: Network: Mission: Save Virtual Society after a Series of Blunders, BBC Online Called in the Experts for Advice . Tamsin Todd Was There. Contributors: Todd, Tamsin - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 21, 1999. Page number: 13. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.