HAYCORN — 23 March 2015

BBC News Goes Responsive

Today, BBC News stopped redirecting mobiles users from www.bbc.co.uk/news to m.bbc.co.uk/news. Now everyone gets the same thing: we are all responsive now, and no shitty redirects. Congratulations to @jcleveley, @sthulb, @sfrench001 and loads of other good and talented folk!

I worked on the BBC News codebase a bit as part of a BBC World Service posting, and it was one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on. I learnt a lot about developing software, but also got to appreciate a bit more strongly the needs of the more marginalised and vulnerable (in terms of bandwidth, hardware, language, freedom of expression) internet users. Not to get all serious or anything but some people out there have a pretty shitty experience and from what I saw the BBC World Service does a pretty good job of trying to make things a little bit better and a little bit clearer.

The language aspect was pretty educational, though. The World Service is available in 27 languages, and for the most part the choice comes down to a combination of usage and need: in many places people would be stuck with only one source of “news” if it weren’t for the World Service. So there’s no French or German news (no French news for people living in France, that is–there’s most definitely definitely news for French speakers living in Africa), but there’s news in Ukrainian, Persian and Kyrgyz. Did you know that Uzbek has three written scripts? (The page is mostly Cyrillic on this page, but there’s also a Latin section, as well as an Arabic tab.) Or that Hausa (34m native speakers!) has apparently not settled on the spelling of the month “April”? (If you know why, please answer this question on Quora!) Or that Burmese is written in such a pretty script?

Anyway, the point is: thank-you and congratulations!