Grand Challenges – The Changing Landscape of Online Delivery

I finally took the time to read through the short article from BBC Research (approx. 10 pages in large print). It is not only interesting from its technical content and conclusions but even more by the underlying economical assumptioms and observations. They show, that at least some media companies are looking for a cooperation with the blogossphere, P2P etc. A reason for that may be that thios media company is not entirely profit-driven.

Some excerpts: (Complete Paper PDF)



The past 30 years have been an exciting time in entertainment technologies, network research, and online delivery. With the stealth rise of ubiquitous computing through mobile phones; the shrinking of the planet by audio and video conferencing via instant messaging; democratisation of news, knowledge and opinion reporting via wikis and blogs, the future appears to be even more exciting.

In Building Public Value, the BBC has committed to the delivery of BBC content to the British Public over this multitude of systems, in a way that is enjoyable, accessible and repurposable by the British Public in the way they choose.

Whilst this is an exciting and intriguing future, this does require a new evolution in the way large media such as video, and audio are stored, and delivered. This document explores this vision, and suggests a number of key challenges that need to be addressed along the way. These are however only the first steps into the 21st century that we are taking. In order to take the next steps we must meet these challenges head on, resolve to solve them and move forward. Our view is that this is a challenge that needs to be met in participation with industry and the community.


The key aim is to pull people’s awareness towards specific key problems which are thought to be very difficult, but achievable in a decade or two.

The sheer scale and scope of the problems caused by 20-60 million different items of content to be viewed simultaneously from the BBC, potentially online is a challenge that should be undertaken, but should not be undertaken lightly.

There are BBC projects underway looking at these challenges, but the scope of this document is larger. The challenges laid out in this document will exist, and need resolving – whether the BBC does it or asks industry to help. Clearly the ultimate solution will be a mix of both in areas of appropriate expertise.

Meeting Challenges

BBC R&D projects exist that seek to address some of the issues laid out here. The Kamaelia & Dirac projects are aimed specifically at the some of the challenges in this document. BBC and Industry collaborations such as Share It! have been looking at issues related to these challenges. Some of these challenges naturally fit elsewhere with other groups.

However, the reality is that the BBC and industry cannot assume that the public will follow. P2P has shown that the Internet Community – that is anyone competent, willing and connected to the network – will go their own way if the public is not involved. There is almost always a better way.