Checkin’ In from CBC’s Digital Development Labs

(cross-posted from my blog over at Raincity)

CBC Vancouver - Wanderin'-The-Corridors

Checking in from the basement of CBC‘s Vancouver headquarters as we kick off an event which is bound to be quite remarkable – the CBC Digital Development Labs.

This morning was introductions by the entrepreneurial-minded attendees chosen to display and refine their ideas for possible development by CBC. I’m participating as a mentor (along with others) here to advise, gut-check, collaborate with (and learn from) the emerging visionaries.

Our secret lair (which is very cool by the way – set up with a variety of workspaces, conversation breakout areas, Mac labs, gamer stations – feels like jPod) is also loaded with industry types acting more as observers to see how projects come together in the new media paradigm.

As Canada’s venerable national broadcaster (in multiple official languages and numerous platforms no less), CBC knows how to incubate and develop it’s famous documentaries, comedy series, news programs and sports and deliver via TV, radio. With the help of a few key employees, the Ceeb now distribute a massive variety of podcasts to go along with the rich content on their web presences.

CBC (like the weather) is the topic of grumbling from Joe Public but I feel CBC deserve significant credit for realizing "that times are a changing" again.

CBC-ers including event host Gary Marcuse and Producer Johnny are sharp enough to know that a group of dedicated enthusiasts with a clever idea can go from concept to market at a speed which would boggle any old-school suit and tie exec. And they are eager to learn how to participate, contribute and nurture these emerging artists and help get their productions out to Canadians (and sure, the rest of the world too) to enjoy.

What the new media makers might lack – which CBC can add to the stew -is story-telling savvy, marketing outreach acumen, methods of understanding audience and, as importantly, wise advice from experienced people who’ve shepherded numerous media-related projects from concept through execution. Certainly the seasoned advice can be the final ingredient needed to launch a "show" which will end up in the common cultural vernacular.

In my role as a mentor, I’ll be the primary sounding board for one group and the secondary for another as we meet and workshop in all sorts of scenarios over the next 2 and half days. The groups’ ideas are remarkable in their variety and originality ranging from narrative stories told using Flash animation to using mobile phones to tell the stories. Here’s the roster of participants so you can tell your friends’ "you knew about them months ago" when their shows are all over the Interwebs.