Dave Winer is worried about the future of BBC websites because he read this story on the Graf report: “The BBC has just under four months to redefine the remit for its online services, the government has said.”
Here’s my take on what this means for the future of the BBC sites. Theres no chance the things most people value from the BBC, principally the news sites, will face any changes. The issue is whether a public service like the BBC should be putting resources into sites (and radio stations and TV channels) that would sit perfectly happily in the commercial sphere. Look at the BBC home page and youll get a sense of how much they do. Does there really need to be a games site? Gardening help?
I personally think the BBCs efforts in these areas as well as news have a great public benefit. And I suspect the charter review will reach the same conclusion, with some possible tinkering at the margins to satisfy the hounds of Rupert Murdoch.
“Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
Brad DeLong provides a timely reminder of Tom Paine’s Common Sense as a July 4th offering. Anyone interested in Paine (and how could you not be) should read John Keane’s wonderful biography of an extraordinary man.