The Evil Imp

Digitally Digital Revolution

It’s official folks, Arts Council England in collaboration with the BBC have invented digital technology. We know this because the documentation for their new media content platform entitled ‘The Space’ uses the word “digital” or “digitally” about thirty times or more.

It’s not at all clear what this project is aiming to acheive or how it’s aiming to do it but one thing is clear, ACE and the BBC, at a combined cost of £4.5Million, want it to be a “revolution”.

We know this because they use that word four times in just one sentence when explaining the “vision” of the project. Swear to God we are not making the next sentence up.


“The Space is about a revolution. A technological revolution which is in turn enabling a creative revolution and a revolution in the way audiences enjoy and experience the arts.”

Cutting through the 16 pages of crap you discover that ‘The Space’ is sort of about putting stuff online, things like dance performances, documentaries about dance performances and original pieces of work specially created for ‘The Space’ that use, you guessed it, “digital technology”.

Presumably shooting on Super 16mm, Super8 or 35MM film is against the rules!

Organisations are being encouraged to apply for funding to create stuff to go into this ‘Space’ although it’s not made at all clear where this ‘Space’ is or how it’s going to work. They do mention computers, tablets and mobile devices but beyond that who knows.

Of course it covers all art forms, well most of them, poetry might struggle here, but we, for obvious reasons, focus on the dance side of things.


A particularly puzzling quote from the documentation says this;

This might include proposals that utilise some of the unique capabilities and features of modern connected devices, for example: geo-location or GPS on smart phones and tablets; QR code readers; bluetooth, Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity; SMS messages; the ability to find friends or create groups or communities; or the ability to share or comment on material.

All of that sounds suspiciously like Facebook, Twitter and …….. well, it’s Facebook and Twitter isn’t it? Both of those services can be hooked to GPS and text messaging, for free. The inclusion of “wi-fi” and “3G” in there is just nonsensical gibberish.

You can also include commenting and feedback forms on there too. All things we have right here on Article19, sans any special investment or expert advice from ACE or the BBC.

So why is the Big Bad doing this? Well, because they have to really. At the moment ACE is spectacularly out of touch when it comes to online media distribution which is why their introduction document sounds like they just discovered that “digital” technology exists.

When you strip out the BS though this is all about putting stuff on the internet for people to watch and/or interact with. Mention of tablets, cell phones and apps is nothing more the mis-direction. They use those words to make it sound like the project is ubiquitous when, in reality, all websites and online media are available on any device that is web connected.

The Rub

Taking a look around the web right now you might stumble across a website called Vimeo. It’s for video, the main thrust of ACE’s pitch. You can upload videos, tag them, share them, create channels, comment, rate, embed into sites like Facebook and others. All for free.

For just $69 a year you can upload huge amounts of Hight Definition (HD) video and share and embed that too. You can curate groups, gather detailed statistics and lots more. Vimeo also offers a music store where you can purchase usage rights for commercial use for just $99.

Of course making stuff to go online still costs money but for the most part it should not be that expensive, at least not £4.5Million expensive.

It’s all there, it’s been there for years and Vimeo is just one of many websites that offer these kind of services, mostly for little or no cost. You don’t need the BBC and ACE to re-invent the concept and spend millions in the process.

One of the items covered by the funding for ‘The Space’ is paying for “clearance rights” to use music and other materials in the specially commissioned work. We imagine that quite a lot of money will be disappearing into the pockets of record companies and other rights holders before this project is done.

Also, if the BBC is so interested in getting the word out about culture and the arts then why not use the four television channels and six radio stations and the iPlayer that they already have? People already know and watch those things, so just get of your fat, overfunded asses and go film some shows.

Perhaps the most baffling thing of all about this project is that it will last for just 6 months, from May to October 2012. After that it disappears and nobody knows if it will ever come back. ACE explains this away by claiming that ‘The Space’ is an experiment, an experiment for just 50 successful funding applicants.

If all of that wasn’t frightening enough we leave you with this thought. ACE and the BBC are the final arbiters of what will appear on ‘The Space’. If they don’t like it, it’s not getting published.

Where’s Mao when you need him?

[ ACE Guidelines for ‘The Space’ ]