Media Perspective: An openness at the BBC has fuelled UK digital development

The BBC doesn't seem to crop up much in marketing land, unless you're doing some advertising for them, or cursing them for stealing eyeballs that could be gazing at your lovely ads.

Yet it has profoundly affected the media landscape that we all work in and the culture that we all inhabit, and it is a crucial part of what makes the UK such a unique and interesting digital media landscape.

Its resources, willingness to experiment and ability to think long-term has created a generation of digital media innovators that's enriching Britain's commercial oomph as they pile out of the Beeb to make more money and escape the bureaucracy. More importantly, though, it seems to have acquired a habit for openness that means all sorts of great thinking has spilled out of the BBC and on to the web, and we can all plunder it.

My favourite example is a brief document called The BBC's Fifteen Web Principles (just google that phrase and you'll find it). If you're doing any kind of online activity, you could do a lot worse than just nicking, I mean, building on, it.

It's splendid guidance for even the most commercial web project, because the BBC's public-service mission seems to chime with the utility and openness that the web demands. Which is a way of saying it is more likely to spot the right thing to do than many of us, but we can learn from it.

Take, for example, Principle Five: "Treat the entire web as a creative canvas: don't restrict your creativity to your own site." That's very smart advice, exactly the right thing to do, but that goes against years of ingrained digital habits.

The digital instinct has always been to get people to come to us, to visit our site, to "spend time with the brand"; so we build little games and create proprietary content and dwell on metrics like visits; we restrict our creativity to our own sites. This, of course, doesn't make a lot of sense when the people you are trying to talk to have created their own places online, their MySpace and Facebook pages, their blogs, their communities.

Why would they visit our corporate bunkers when they're busy building their own cosy web corners? This is what Principle Five neatly embodies, and it took an organisation with a slightly different perspective to get to that realisation first. It also suggests one of the ways you might respond - Principle Thirteen: "Let people paste your content on the walls of their virtual homes. Encourage users to take nuggets of content away with them, with links back to your site."

Clever old Auntie. That is one way, at least, that we can get value from the licence fee - get it to do some strategic thinking for us.