Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes (new job)

As usual, it's been a while, but people seem to be getting used to the idea of it being OK to blog only occasionally, now that (insert social networking site of choice) has cornered the market in real-time link sharing and minutiae.

I'm moving jobs soon, and it seems right to mark such tumultuous events with a bit of prose. So, soon I'll be leaving my position of Senior Product Manager within the Online Technology Group (OTG, formerly Online Media Group (OMG), formerly Digital Media Technologies (DMT)) of BBC Future Media & Technology (FM&T) to become Lead Engineer in the Prototyping team of BBC Research & Development (R&D).

WTF? You bet. None of my family really know what I do, because it takes too damn long to even explain where I work, never mind all the TLDs.

Within OTG and its former guises, I've been closely involved in the development of the huge success story that is BBC iPlayer, mainly making the audience consumption aspects of its various streaming & download platforms measurable and reportable on. No small task, given both the size and the complexity of the iPlayer offering - although primarily about streaming audio or video to your browser via Flash, there's many more additional ways to consume its content (on mobiles, games consoles, Freesat and other set top boxes, iPads, integrated televisions..) and they all need to be measured in some way so we can see how they're being used, and how popular they're becoming with audiences.

To cut a long story short, I (and subsequently the team I built) designed and built a suite of data munging & measurement products known internally as iStats, and it's those systems that ingest and produce all the data on which iPlayer's audience and business reporting is based. You can see some of the data from iStats in the press packs released here. As well as external and regulatory reporting, the data has been used for all sorts of purposes - measuring how new features perform (such as Series Catchup), debugging content delivery issues across different CDNs and ISPs, informing which new platforms to target, and feeding into product UX decisions (such as the new iPlayer v3 beta).

I'm very proud to have played a small part in the big success that is iPlayer, and I think I've progressed hugely as both a software engineer and manager over the last three years (I'm one of those weird sub-Spolsky types who likes doing both). It's time for a new set of interesting challenges, however, and I've always wanted to work across different areas of the BBC, so I have hopes that my new role will bring that. The team work on all sorts of diverse, fascinating, forward-looking things (like P2P AV delivery, real-time services, and all manner of other stuff I don't quite grok yet) across hardware and software so I'm hugely excited to be a part of it.

Of course, there's no point doing things in halves, so I'm naturally buying a house and preparing to move at the same time as all of this going on. Hmm.

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