What would the world be like if everyone could write Chinese? Should we make sure driverless cars have a ‘conscience’ before they hit the roads? And how did David Bowie know the internet was going to be so big, way before (almost) everyone else? These are some of the questions that have been bouncing around our office in recent months, and if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to spend your time on the internet a bit more wisely, you’re in luck.
Today we launched BBC Ideas, an experimental BBC site where you’ll be able to watch ‘short films for curious minds’. (See our earlier posts: https://medium.com/bbc-ideas) It’s somewhere where you can find out more about ideas you may not have heard of, or if you have, you might not have thought about them in this way.
We’re hoping the films might change your perspective about something you know tons about — or expose you to something completely new.
So you might find out how magic mushrooms could be used to treat drug-resistant depression or why Kazakhs think the @ sign looks like the moon’s ear.
We’ll be featuring the ideas all sorts of clever people, from virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier to essayist Adam Gopnik, to Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire, two of the unsung heroines of electronic music (so much love for them…)
And we’ve got great sets of videos about the predictions from the past that people either got uncannily right, or those they got completely wrong (monkey servants anyone?).
It aims to be informative, smart and genuinely useful for when you need a little bit of a lunchtime brain-detox. But we also want BBC Ideas to be entertaining. So much more rewarding than stalking your ex’s ex’s ex on Facebook. But not quite up there with 2017’s most challenging political biographies.
One of the defining features of BBC Ideas is our curated playlist format. There’ll be playlists on visionaries and playlists on how to navigate modern life. And there’ll be playlists on classic psychological experiments and what they tell us about today. We’re even doing a playlist about ‘isms’ — from absurdism to populism to individualism — presented in a comic book style.
We’re testing out whether this is the right way to organise our content, and whether it makes it easy for people to find interesting stuff. In an ideal world we’ll be taking you on all sorts of weird and wonderful journeys that will help you spend time on your mobile phone in a meaningful and rewarding way.
In fact the whole of BBC Ideas is a work in progress, we’re trying out a bunch of different formats, styles and technical tools. If it works, and people come back for more, we’ll know we’re on to something.
See you there.