NYPL Chief Digital Officer Relishes ‘Opportunity Greater Than I Could Have Imagined’

BBC vet Tony Ageh starts next Monday.

Ha ha. At the very end of an interview piece in The Guardian with Tony Ageh, a BBC digital veteran who joins the New York Public Library Monday as chief digital officer, there is the declaration, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” The stand-alone, article-ending sentence – which Ageh may or may not have actually uttered – is hyperlinked to the YouTube clip below.

Elsewhere in the piece, Ageh candidly reviews his BBC years with Guardian technology lead reporter Jemima Kiss. Evidently, the New York Public Library can count on someone who knows how to be persistent:

Awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2015 for services to digital media, Ageh has proven himself adept at navigating notorious BBC bureaucracy. In 2003, a year after joining, he worked with engineer Ben Lavender to push the iPlayer project through no fewer than 84 internal meetings before it was approved. iPlayer has so far been used to watch 10 billion BBC programs online.

“Everything I told the BBC to do they didn’t understand or do. There’s no shortage of ideas at the BBC but it’s about whether that idea survives the BBC’s power testing of ideas. I am good at making ideas survive that process, which means they survive the outside world,” said Ageh.

Ageh explains that he was ultimately swayed by the enormity of the NYPL opportunity, which at the outset will include experimenting with data sets and APIs tied to the library’s massive holdings. Before joining the BBC, Ageh worked as head of creative development at The Guardian and was also the publisher of an early Web directory, Up My Street, which allowed British users to look up information based on their postal code.