“Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema”
So rapped the Black Eyed Peas in their number one selling song, Where Is The Love? .
Negative images certainly weren’t the main criteria as I tuned into Jamie’s Ministry of Food this week on Channel 4. As the credits rolled, it struck me just how much more effective this programme had been at communicating some simple messages about healthy eating than a series of government adverts on a billboard. So if television can entertain, inform, educate and ultimately inspire us, then just imagine what the web can do. Because, among so many other things, the web (and mobile phones) can connect us to each other. So just imagine what would happen if a public service broadcaster seized this opportunity, today, in the UK.
Imagine no more, because from the Black Eyed Peas, we move on, to 4ip. (oh come on, you must have seen that coming). Launched last night and headed by Tom Loosemore, this new venture is “an innovation fund where Four will work with a range of partners, across the UK’s creative economy to stimulate public service digital media”.
Well that’s the ‘wonk speak’ anyway. Luckily Tom, (who seems perfect for the role, with his background at OFCOM and the BBC), is also a seriously great communicator. So, at last night’s launch event at C4 HQ on Horseferry Road, London, he moved on swiftly to the ‘plain English’ version;
“What we’re really about is finding, supporting, working with, developing,fantastically talented people; to take their wonderful ideas and turn them into digital media (websites, games, mobile services) that help improve the lives of people in Britain. It’s about what can we do together, to support talent that will produce stuff that will make people’s lives better.”
Tom went on to highlight five particular areas of focus for 4ip (short for ‘4 Innovation for the Public’ fund);
1) Hidden Gems. “We want tools and services, content and code, which helps people uncover hidden gems. Stuff that’s already out there on the internet, that not enough people know about”
2) Digital Democracy. “The bedrock of public services. Really the bottom line is keeping our democracy healthy. And there have to be new ways of keeping an eye on money and power, using this wonderful new medium known as the internet.”
3) Amplifying Voices. “What are the ways we can amplify voices that media either couldn’t or wouldn’t or didn’t previously identify and give a voice to? How can we really reach people that we couldn’t reach before and bring them to a wider audience – bring their voices to the fore?”
4) Wise Crowds. “How can we introduce people who know things to people who need to know those things?”
5) Tools to make trouble. “One of the reasons I was so keen to come to Four (notice it’s Four not Channel Four) was their values – our values. And key amongst those is ‘make trouble’. Make trouble in the public interest would be the way I describe it. And I’m very keen that 4IP finds ways of developing tools for the public good that cause trouble, in a good way, and crucially put them in the hands of people who need them most.”
And with that, and a push of a button on his mobile, 4ip was declared ‘open for business’!
The combination of Tom, Jon Gisby (Four’s head of New Media and Technology and former head of Yahoo! UK) and recent recruits like the excellent Ewan McIntosh is a strong indication that the ideas submitted to 4ip will be seen by a team who really DO get the potential of digital media meeting public services. Coming from a brand with a reputation for making trouble, this is an exciting recipe where, for a change, the mission and the people fit together brilliantly. Almost like peas in a pod.