Follow The Box

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 0:04 | Filed in Media, Politics, Web

The BBC have labelled a shipping container with the BBC logo, with various GPS tracking and so forth, so that they can track the progress of a shipping container around the world for a year, they can show where it is and what it is containing at any time, in order to show something or other about globalisation.

…our hope is that by the end of the year what you will see here is a unique snapshot of world trade and how it affects the lives of millions of people. BBC News: The Box takes off on global journey

As the shipping container is to be a ‘working’ container — in other words it will freight stuff around, it’s apparently not costing much money. That’s fine, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions — such as do the BBC get to choose what cargo it transports? Or could we see the BBC box being used to transport rubber batons and electric prods to Zimbabwe?

There are problems with either: on the one hand, a container that only carries ‘BBC-acceptable’ cargo may not give an accurate reflection of world trade. On the other, it could be argued that the BBC have a moral obligation not to be involved in the transport of certain cargo…

Most interestingly however, the BBC have a pretty map showing where the container is, and what it is containing. At the moment, the box is still empty, although as it has moved from the container port, it may be about to be filled with something

But as usual, the BBC have missed a trick with social media. The map is nicely branded with a BBC logo anyway, showing where the container is, so why not offer people the chance to embed the map into their pages?

Obviously, by looking at where the flash movie sits by viewing the source, I can embed it in this page (note to the Beeb: if you really want me to remove it, just ask — but I had understood that the whole point was that you were trying to be a little more collaborative), but not everyone will have the understanding of HTML to be able to do this, so they are missing somewhat of a trick in raising the profile of this little container, if they aren’t making it easier for people to embed.

Although my old mucker Paul Canning raised this on the BBC internet blog in March, they don’t seem to have picked up on it yet. Remember; if you get people to share your content, you get more publicity for it; you can get it embedded not just in blog posts but in sidebars; this will help to keep it in the public eye at all times. It’s not difficult, BBC…

…so there’s two things to keep an eye on: the container itself, and whether or not the BBC are going to make it easier for people to blog about it…

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Comments to Follow The Box

  1. Seb Crump says:

    September 10th, 2008 at 7:48 am

    do the BBC get to choose what cargo it transports? … it could be argued that the BBC have a moral obligation not to be involved in the transport of certain cargo

    I hope the BBC doesn’t get to choose and I’m not sure that the moral obligation would be on the BBC - it’s not involved, just observing.

    In fact I think the BBC would be delighted if there was controversial cargo, imagine amount of free programming material that could generate across the network.

    The first thoughts that occurred to me were - aren’t these containers often used for transporting counterfeit goods, etc.?; and aren’t these containers often tied up for months on end in some storage point, which would be rather boring.

    However, I guess on the first point the %age would still be very small, so unlikely to occur, but the latter concerns me that there will be some ‘interference’ to ensure that it keeps moving - which I guess means BBC would be ‘involved’.

    I’m actually disappointed it’s so clearly marked, as this is likely to put any dodgy traders off. I doubt it would be allowed to dock in Zimbabwe though, as the BBC is banned from that country…

  2. Blair Millen says:

    September 10th, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Excellent project this… I’ll be following with interest.

  3. mark fairlamb says:

    September 10th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    we ship trailers in and out of holland & belgium and can track them.
    i’d laugh if this container spent the year going from harwich to oostende and back.

Leave a comment