BBC releases Reith Lectures online as MP3s

04/08/2004

For those of you who don’t know, basically my job at the moment is to be one-half of a rapid-prototyping and R&D unit with Matt Webb over at the part of the BBC that handles the interactive aspects of the BBC’s Radio and Music output. The department makes all the websites for the various Radio Networks as well as interactive TV stuff, stuff for mobile phones and – of course – the Radio Player. It’s a pretty cool place to work and I’m proud of the work that we’ve managed to get done there (more on that in the next few months, hopefully).

So at the moment I’m particularly proud of the work that the department is doing. Basically Radio 4 do a series of programmes each year called The Reith Lectures, in which they get a notable thinker to come in and – over a series of lectures – expound upon a particular scientific, political or social theme. This year Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize-winning poet, is talking about Climate of Fear. Normally – like many BBC radio shows – you can listen to them again via the BBC Radio Player. But this year they’re doing something a bit different and I think pretty significant – they’re releasing all the lectures as DRM-free MP3 files for people to download. There’s more about this over at Dan Hill’s site and Matt Jones has written some commentary on it too (Free as in speech). Hopefully it’s the first open distribution of many programmes of this kind – enlightening, significant and weighty pieces of work that actually have the potential to make the world a better place – available for free from the BBC. Fingers crossed.