Drat. Just heard back from NESTA, and the latest news is that my online science video/competition project, SciCast, is extremely unlikely to happen this year. They’re all still hugely keen on it, but the funding is quite likely to take another few months to come together. Better, they all think, to set a specific start date as a target and work towards that.

From the project’s point of view I think they’re absolutely right. If we could start now, participatory web video would be a novel and exciting thing in its own right, and by my reckoning we’ll lose that novelty with a 2007 start. But that’s about all we lose, and anyway, we’re simply not in a position to start in the next month or so, and then the timing’s wrong for schools, and… etc. So it all makes sense, and I don’t begrudge the decision, even though I wasn’t in the room when it was made.

From my personal point of view, though, this is an utter arse. It’s not that I disagree, nor even that it puts me in a worse position – it’s been looking precarious for a while, and a definite ‘not yet’ at least doesn’t leave me hanging any longer. But emotionally, it’s gut-wrenching. This project was how I wanted to spend 2006. I turned down proper work to try to make it happen, and consequently I’ve been out of TV for six months now. Looks like I’ll have to head back in again, somehow.

Now, bless ’em, NESTA’s throwing me a bone and saying that they’ll commit to building up the website and running a few more test workshops to provide material to populate the site. That’ll give us something solid to point potential funders at, and it should also allow us to work out some of the inevitable kinks. That’s a lovely thing to do, and not an easy decision for NESTA – reaching a prototype stage won’t be cheap, and I get the feeling they’re doing it largely so they can offer me something rather than merely saying ‘thanks, can you come back next year? Bye!’

So they’re doing everything they can – more than seems reasonable, actually – to soften the blow. Right now, I actually have more work lined up than I did yesterday.

But it’s still gut-wrenching.

Excuse me, I need to go and swear loudly now.