Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ask not what Digital Britain can do for you...

Edel Brosnan presents the first in a series of posts about the Digitial Britain report:

... the big question is what you - and the Guild - should do next, now that Lord Carter's wide-ranging review has been published.

The government hopes that the Digital Britain report will future-proof Britain's creative industries by improving the infrastructure for digital communications and protecting and promoting talent and innovation in the creative industries. So far, so uncontroversial - but while the report is bursting with ideas about improving broadband speeds across the UK, the digital content that people will actually be reading or watching or playing or listening to barely gets a mention. Yet we all know that in any technology, content is king. Ask anyone who works in computers: they'll tell you that software sells hardware, not vice versa. Mobile phones struggled to break out of the early-adopter market till teenagers discovered the joy of texting. There's nothing wrong with the idea of high-speed broadband for all. But a souped-up and speedy 21st-century cart will have trouble going anywhere, if the cart-builders forget that a cart needs a horse.

Today, all content is digital: from guerilla blogs to - well - government reports. You can watch Casualty or The Culture Show on the iPlayer, or listen to shock jocks and Women's Hour on a podcast. You can read Ulysses in ebook form, or download the latest Johnny Depp or Jean-Luc Godard film from a download-to-rent or download-to-own service. (For obvious reasons, the Guild has a zero tolerance policy towards illegal peer-to-peer downloads). Even theatre performances can be streamed live or recorded for YouTube. So if you care about good writing in any medium - as a writer, producer, director, actor or punter - then the Digital Britain report affects you.

More to the point - you can have a real effect on what happens next. Lord Carter's team at the department of Business, Innovation and Skills are looking for reactions and comments on Digital Britain. The deadline for responding to the report is September. Don't be shy: let them know what you think.

Read the full text of the Digital Britain report here (there's an executive summary too): http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/6216.aspx

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