Report 4-17-07: BBC and Bob Geldof to map mankind:
The BBC, BBC Worldwide
and Bob Geldof have today announced an intention to collaborate on the
Dictionary of Man, a unique and ambitious anthropology project that
will record every human society on the planet.
The Dictionary of Man website will be a limitless repository of content,
an immense digital catalogue of all current human existence and an enormous
resource for the exchange of ideas and information.
The BBC will, in tandem, produce for television a classic BBC landmark
series, The Human Planet. The eight-part series will be produced in
a unique collaboration between the BBC's world-renowned Natural History
Unit, BBC Bristol Features and Documentaries and BBC Wales.
The scale and ambition of this unprecedented project will use every
available medium to create the largest ever living record of films,
photographs, anthropological histories, philosophies, theologies, economies,
language, art, and documented and personal accounts from people of every
society across the globe. It will serve as a definitive record of us
- Mankind - at the beginning of the 21st century.
Twenty years ago, Bob Geldof was sitting on a tree stump in Northern
Niger with a regional governor, looking out at what Geldof described
as "a moonscape". The governor told of how 300 different languages
that once existed had disappeared forever in just two years during the
famine. Geldof has written, "Even though I never heard those languages,
I already miss them. In these ways the lights of human genius wink out."
From then on he was determined to record "all those sounds, voices
and jokes so they never disappear again".
Announcing the Dictionary of Man project at the MIP conference in Cannes,
Bob Geldof, who is working in partnership with award-winning producer/director
John Maguire, said, "This will be an A to Z of Mankind which will
catalogue the world we live in now, the people who share this planet,
the way we live and the way we adapt to face common and different challenges.
Mankind is the world's most extraordinary animal. In an age of globalisation
and increasing connection, we face the growing homogenisation of cultures
and the disappearance of extraordinary and diverse mechanisms that man
has invented in order to survive in whichever environment he has found
himself. Culture is a function of survival."
With the cooperation of the great institutions of the world all extant
photographs, archives and records will be included. Anthropologists,
social historians and experts in many other disciplines will be involved
as, over the years, the degrees of human difference are gradually logged.
The architecture of the site will use the very latest social networking
technologies in order to allow individuals across the globe to track
and trace their national, clan, tribal, family and individual dispersals
and reconnect to far-flung and ancient versions of their family or group
members. "Ultimately I suppose in some ways we're also building
the World's Family Photo Album," said Geldof.
Simultaneous to this vast site, Dictionary of Man crews will travel
the globe to capture on film 900 of the separate groups of people that
anthropologists believe to be in existence. Experts suggest that there
could be up to 27,000 variations alongside the core 900.
In a hugely ambitious multi-media initiative, all the collated material
will be available through the Dictionary of Man website, an encyclopaedic
volume of DVDs featuring hundreds of hours of programming, books, magazines,
CDs, exhibitions, theatrical and all media platforms.
Filmed in high definition, the TV series The Human Planet will be an
epic record of how different peoples adapt to different surroundings.
As they've done before with the multi-award-winning series The Blue
Planet and Planet Earth, the BBC now turns its attention to Man - the
Miracle Animal. "Only the BBC with its scope, scale, ambition,
professionalism and reputation could possibly achieve this massive project
and I'm proud to be associated with the Natural History Unit, one of
the most renowned and respected parts of the BBC," said Geldof.
This project goes to the heart of the modern BBC - only two months ago
Director of BBC Vision, Jana Bennett, called for a response to the challenge
of what she called 360 degree media, referring to the digital age and
the dissemination of content. The Dictionary of Man and The Human Planet
places the BBC at the very edge of modern media and its capability.
Jana Bennett said, Coming from joint production teams with this
pedigree, The Human Planet promises to be spectacular television. It
will give us the chance to meet and understand the people who share
our planet in a way weve never seen them before. In joining forces
with Bob Geldof, we have one of the worlds foremost humanitarians
as an ally as we create a legacy for both current and future generations.
More importantly, this is not just about television, its about
360 degree media on a scale weve never seen before. Public service
why the BBC exists.
The BBCs commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, will act as facilitator
in seeking international partnerships for the initiative.
Says BBC Worldwides Director of Content & Production, Wayne
Garvie, BBC Worldwide has a vast amount of experience in working
with global partners and we are looking forward to using our international
relationships to pursue all the opportunities this huge and exciting
project can bring.
Tom Archer, Studio Head, BBC Bristol Features and Documentaries, says,
This is the ideal project for us; it is almost a definition of
why we exist. It will create both a unique television landmark and a
lasting legacy for future generations. Its the realisation of
a long-held ambition to bring a celebration of human diversity to a
mass audience across the world.
"The television series is so ambitious it demanded the bringing
together of the different forms of expertise and approach represented
by the three BBC Vision studios involved: Wales for their achievements
with Tribe, Bristol Features and Documentaries for their story-telling
and the NHU for their world-beating, blue-chip film-making."
Geldof's Ten Alps media group will also provide the administrative and
infrastructural backup for the Dictionary of Man. Ten Alps CEO, Alex
Connock, said, "This is a fantastic, hugely ambitious project on
a scale that only Bob Geldof would contemplate. Ten Alps is delighted
to be part of it and support it in every way possible."