Looking back on Backstage


So, BBC Backstage is sadly no more. Today the BBC released a beautifully compiled ebook retrospective of the last five years. There’s also a great article by Jemima Kiss over at the Guardian. I’m humbled to have been both interviewed in the book and mentioned by Jemima in her article.

But I just wanted to write a little bit here too. Backstage always meant a lot to me. It was one of the first things I got involved with when I moved to London just over four years ago. I’ve always strongly identified with the ideas behind the project. They’re just as important now as they were then.

It’s helped me in work too. I won’t say it encouraged me to be mischievous, but it certainly let me get away with it a bit more often.

But Backstage wasn’t really about the BBC. It was about the community of developers, designers, thinkers and tinkerers that built up around it. Always there, always challenging us to acknowledge the public interest in what we do. Always holding us to account and making sure we did the right thing.

Backstage made it a lot easier to build for the people building things with our stuff and I hope we can keep that conversation going.

So my thanks to Ian, Matt, Adrian, Tom, Rain, Ant, Brendan, Sarah, Ben and everyone else far too numerous to mention that helped make Backstage happen or got involved.

Thanks to you all and long may it live on. To Backstage.

Some relevant posts from the archive:

2 Responses to “Looking back on Backstage”

  1. Backstage was really important for the FM&T team in Manchester. We had no resources for servers (Or London FM&T would not give us any because we did Ruby on Rails) and based on a few prototypes put up on the wild west servers we were able to get some good server space.

    I do hope the ‘hacking’ culture stays alive in the BBC, the ability to side step red tape and try things out is vital for innovation.

  2. Thanks Ben, I’d forgotten about the importance of the playground servers. Indeed the Facebook app was hosted there.

    Unfortunately there’s no direct equivalent at the moment, not one that anyone can get easy access to. Those building prototypes once again need to find their own hosting or a supportive senior manager with a charge code.

    A big step back there. But for those building in the technologies used on the new platform, we can at least now easily release prototypes to the integration and test environments. That doesn’t help those not using Java or PHP though.

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