Stefan Stern - Welcome to BBC 2.0

What on earth would Lord Reith have made of it? The British Broadcasting Corporation is to start showing clips of up-coming programmes on that extraordinary ‘Web 2.0' phenomenon, YouTube.

by Stefan Stern
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Period drama and earnest documentaries will be plugged alongside other more typical video highlights in the YouTube catalogue, such as naked, drunk students doing unspeakable things to each other with unusual objects.

(I mean, I gather that's what you can find on YouTube. Personally I've never really looked at any of that stuff. Well, not intentionally. Not for very long anyway.)

Lord Reith would not have been impressed. But then, he wasn't much of a fan of television anyway. And he certainly would not have had any time for the (to him) bizarre concept of ‘user-generated content'.

As far as he was concerned, the public were supposed to take what was given to them. They were to be informed, educated and entertained - in that order. ‘We know what the public wants,' Reith once said, ‘and by golly they are not going to get it!'

Today the tables have been turned - and not only in medialand. Where corporate giants once loftily dictated terms to their customers - the ‘any colour as long as it's black' principle - today, better educated, empowered, web-enabled customers cannot be so easily fobbed off.

Smart businesses increasingly seek to ‘co-create' their products and services with their customers.

‘Web 2.0' reflects this trend too. The user informs the centre: an inversion of the old power relationship. In the immediate aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London it was the ‘citizen journalists' with their phone cameras who beat ‘Big Media' to the story.

So all hail to you, the almighty reader. Us hacks are, slowly and awkwardly, getting off our fat superior behinds and trying to engage you in a conversation.

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