Invisible content

Try this simple test. Go to the BBC Radio 4 web site and find the RealMedia streams for Misha Glenny’s excellent series of talks about European expansion, Brave New Europe. Start with the alphabetical list of Radio 4 shows. Now try browsing to the right section of the site (news? Factual? History?). No luck? Now try the search function. Try some keywords. Or the programme’s name. Give up? Now try Google. You’ll need to use the ‘sitesearch‘ syntax but that just means typing something like this: ‘ glenny brave new europe‘ into the search field. Bingo. Glenny’s series is in the number 1 spot. Cool.

This is no big deal I suppose. Everyone knows how to use Google these days, right? And the BBC will get search working sooner or later, I suppose. It’s too important to leave to chance, though: sponsoring the creation of wise, informative material like Brave New Europe is admirable but effectively hiding it away behind a wall of information after it’s been broadcast sharply diminishes its value and, more importantly, damages the BBC’s claim to privileged access to public service status and inflation-protected funding. Good material like Glenny’s series has a substantial half life and, provided it’s not allowed to fade away, should continue to exert an influence on the European debate for a long time. In the networked era, making content visible (as well as accessible) is as important as creating it. Maybe we should reserve some public money for Google.

You can find Glenny’s Brave New Europe here.