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!