Tuesday 2 December 2008

BBC to close Island Blogging community project

Five years ago, BBC Scotland started a little-known project called 'Island Blogging' in conjunction with the Scottish government.

In this post former BBC journalist, Martin Belam describes the venture:
"'Island Blogging' was a project to provide a platform for isolated communities on some Scottish islands to share their voices with the nation at large....The Scottish Executive had conducted a programme of giving families on the island computers and narrowband internet connections. The BBC then provided a blogging platform."
Several days ago, BBC Scotland announced that it would be closing down Island Blogging in January 2009:
"As that digital literacy grew, and the blogosphere in general developed, it has become very easy to set up blogs elsewhere across the web.

Your concerns about Island Blogging’s technical limitations, House Rules and Terms and Conditions have been noted. At the same time, your patience and support has been greatly appreciated as problems with the blogging engine and spam filter recurred with increasing severity.

In short, five years on, it has become apparent that the site does not best serve your needs and that the technology has reached the end of its natural life."
BBC Scotland has suggested that the community of bloggers continues blogging on other platforms and also encourages website users to contribute to 'revitalised BBC Local sites'.

Numerous bloggers expressed their sadness at the closure of the project:
"What can I say, I have met some really good friends on IB, even before we settled here, I cannot believe the BBC are pulling the plug on us."

"I think Island Blogging was a stunning idea. Everyone who lives in these truly unique places suddenly had their own voice which could not be shouted over by those in the mainland."
It's an interesting one because there is much discussion within various parts of the BBC about the Corporation's role in developing communities and encouraging online literacy and skills.

It seems with the closure of this project, a place where a small number of BBC licence fee payers could upload blogs on the BBC website, and the end of World Have Your Say's external comment moderation experiment, that the BBC is retaining very direct control over what appears on its webspace.

This is in contrast to organisations like the Telegraph (My Telegraph) and Sky (Sky Community) where website users have been provided with a space to write and upload their own blogs.

Rather than closing projects like Island Blogging, should the BBC be expanding them?


Stromness Dragon said...

Interested to read this - I am one of the former Island Bloggers, and along with everyone else was very distressed when the BBC announced they were winding up the site. It was a super community, linking very diverse people from all the Scottish Islands.

We enjoyed each other's company, received lots of positive responses from regular and not-so-regular readers all over the world, and grabbed with glee the opportunity to share the delights of island life.

So distraught we were, that a few bloggers and contributors got together and set up another blog site. Many of us have now migrated (not without some pain) to a new forum! You can find us at

Thanks for your piece - it's very nice to know we are not completely unknown.

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