James Cridland

BBC Backstage

To an interesting party tonight courtesy of the folks at BBC Backstage, who were kind enough to manage to get me into this party at moderate last-minute. Lots of fascinating people, some even saying that the party reminded them of the last web boom. (I was part of the boom, but not part of the scene back then). I enjoyed meeting many people - some, who were talking about their latest web projects, seemed slightly put out when I asked them what their business model was. It appears that ‘build it, people will come and we’ll figure something out’ is the plan. In which case: be afraid, be very afraid.

The BBC’s Matthew Cashmore was mucking about with something called Twitter - and insisted I join. That’s me, then, at http://www.twitter.com/jamescridland. I have no idea what this website is supposed to do, other than a rather less useful equivalent of a custom message in my Google Talk. Interestingly, it does connect to GoogleTalk, but it ignores my status message - I have to send it messages instead. I’ve been told it’s really addictive. I don’t get it. But then, I don’t get MySpace either, so clearly I’m getting old. (However, I do get Flickr, so maybe I’m still vaguely cool).

Good to meet a lot of very clever people. Having posted in the BBC Backstage mailing list a few times, some knew my name, which was quite flattering; some had read my blog (in particular my Indian High Commission rant, which is now an article of its own right); but actually the highlight of the night was one chap coming up to me, seeing my email address name badge, and wondering what my relationship was to Dave. I was proud to say that he was my brother. The conversation then was about the clever things he’s doing with email. Thank heavens I read his blog.

I’m a firm believer that the BBC Backstage project is one of the cleverest things that the corporation is doing - possibly THE cleverest. What I’m keen to do is, through the stations I work for, be able to similarly contribute data. The BBC’s size and resource probably means that it can set the standards; but commercial radio should be able to use the same API standards to ensure that the whole of the UK’s radio data, for example, is available to those wanting to use it. After all; commercial radio is the market leader for people under 55: it’s arguably more important for commercial radio to make their data available in this way. Perhaps this is one of the roles for the RadioCentre in future.

Many fascinating people; many business cards swapped, and a jolly good time had by all - certainly by me. I’m now the proud owner of a BBC Backstage t-shirt, a copy of Make magazine (splendid magazine, not read that before), and assorted pens and other stuff. The team should be congratulated. So I will. Congratulations, team.