Archives for December 2007

The Archers in 2007

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Tristan Ferne | 16:07 UK time, Friday, 21 December 2007

As it's my last day in the office so I've been playing with some visualisations of the Archers! The Archers website has surprisingly detailed synopses of each episode, and a very comprehensive archive dating back several years. So I decided to grab all the synopses for the past year and then processed them by removing any common words (e.g. "the", "and" etc.). Then I had a go doing some visualisation of the data.

Download hi-res PDF

We have the most frequently mentioned characters...
Size is proportional to the number of mentions through the year.

And I've also done the most frequently mentioned characters for each month. You can see who the storylines were about from this one.

Then some places...
Size is again proportional to frequency. Because I'm splitting everything up into single words some things have been split, like "Lower" and "Loxley".

Then the rest of the words. I quite like this one, lots of going and saying and telling.

And you can download the data file of the most frequent words if you want to have a play yourself.

The Labs

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Tristan Ferne | 11:57 UK time, Wednesday, 19 December 2007

We've just put our Radio Labs page live. It's a companion page to this blog and contains links to our latest prototypes and betas - a handy shortcut if you want to see what we've been working on.

Meanwhile we're working with 6Music on getting another beta site up and running, it's nearly ready apart from a few server problems, and we're kicking off a brand new R&D project in January. I can't say much right now but I'm planning on writing about the project as it progresses.

Scrobbling your BBC Radio listening

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Chris Bowley Chris Bowley | 17:13 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

I feel compelled to keep my profile up to date with what I've listened to. There I said it. But until now there has been no way of including the songs I listened to on the radio.

A few months ago, we created profiles for Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music and 1 Xtra and began feeding (or 'scrobbling') now playing information into each. With this information available, it is now possible for you to update your profile with the songs you've heard while listening to BBC Radio.

To allow you to do this, I have written a widget. In fact, two widgets: one for Yahoo! Widgets and one for Mac OS X Dashboard.

Widget screenshot

Both versions of the widget look and function (virtually) the same. Log in using your account details, select one of the four radio stations which we currently support and whether or not you want every song to be scrobbled automatically. If you choose automatic scrobbling, you can remove individual tracks; if you choose manual scrobbling you choose which songs to add to your profile. Real Player is required for both widgets in order to stream live radio.

The widgets display a number of things while you are listening. Top right is your avatar which shows you are currenly logged in. Under the now playing track is one or more buttons, depending on which version of the widget you are using. Under Yahoo! Widgets, the +/- button allows you to add the current track if you are using manual submission or remove it if you are using automatic submission. In addition, under OS X, you also have volume controls for the radio and a button to stop listening. To stop the Yahoo! Widgets version, right click and select Close Widget. Under these controls you will see one or more similar artists to the current artist and details of the programme and radio station you are listening to.

Please note these widgets are released as beta versions and probably contain bugs. While I cannot guarantee to be able to support their development, please let me know of anything you encounter in the comments.

A few technical details:

  • The current playing track information is generated by our playout system. Any songs not played using this system will not be available to scrobble. E.g. live sessions, vinyl tracks.
  • Due to the above and general internet lag, the song displayed may not accurate - the previous song is displayed until a new one is played.
  • A reminder: these widgets are very much BETA

Download for OS X Dashboard
Version 0.3 | 30th May 08

Download for Yahoo! Widgets (version 4.5 or higher required)
Version 0.2 | 19th Dec 07

Links for 14-12-2007

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Tristan Ferne | 15:03 UK time, Friday, 14 December 2007

BBC - Radio - Help - Development News
The "Radio Player" is now "iPlayer for Radio". Also with added now playing information and higher bitrates. Must remember not to use the words "Radio Player" anymore.

The Future of Cell Phone Headsets
On the future of mobile headsets - "a heads-up display for your ears" - surround-sound conference calls, sharing conversations and music over headsets.

Backstage Blog :: Eddie Mair of BBC Radio 4 wants your postcodes mashedup
The PM programme want your postcode so they can stick it on a Google Map. And Backstage are going to release the data.

BBC - Radio 3 - Sunday Feature - In the Beginning was the Song
"The urge to make music is rooted deep in human nature. But why that urge arose in the first place is a hotly debated question, which divides the scientific community." - Interesting Radio 3 documentary with a few days left to listen...

thesixtyone - a music adventure
A music discovery game - use your points to promote songs and if those songs get popular then you get more points.

More at

Your best live music moment? Text 83111.

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Yasser Rashid Yasser Rashid | 10:12 UK time, Monday, 10 December 2007

We get lots of text messages sent into the radio stations everyday. Some get mentioned on air and some get put on the website. It’s also a useful tool to get the audience to take part in the various events we do throughout the year.

For those of you who managed to check out the Electric Proms gigs at the Roundhouse this year you may have noticed the massive 60ft long sms projections within the building.


When we kicked off the brainstorming around the live events project that Chris recently wrote about many of our thoughts focused on what we could actually do at the event itself. Due to time and the size of the project team it wasn’t something that we could pursue but fortunately we managed to get Troika an independent design company to develop an idea for us. The outcome was an SMS wall where you could text 83111 with your favourite live music memories and moments later the wall would update (with some nice transitions) displaying your memory graffiti style for everyone to read.


Several festivals I’ve been to over the years have displayed sms messages from the crowd on screens that often sit next to stage. It does the job but lacks any integration with the event itself, which is why the wall at the electric proms worked so well. The typography and positioning of the text itself worked really well in the space and it provided good material for people to read while they were waiting for friends or queuing at the bar.

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Links for 07-12-2007

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Tristan Ferne | 14:10 UK time, Friday, 7 December 2007

Developer's Guide - Google Chart API - Google Code
A Google API to dynamically generate charts. Like this...

Google chart example


Christy Dena :: ARG Stats
Loads of stats and information about the uptake, impact and awards garnered from ‘alternate reality games’ (ARGs). » Blog Archive » Play music on your blog. Easy.
Embeddable flash player that will play mp3s from webpages, RSS, XSPF playlists and more.

MobileScrobbler - AudioScrobbler client for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch
Scrobble from your iPhone / iPod Touch to your account. We've got an interesting BBC/ widget coming soon, more next week I hope...

More at

Show your workings

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Jamie Tetlow | 14:00 UK time, Thursday, 6 December 2007

I've been a designer at Audio & Music Interactive since 2002 so I've had the chance to get involved in a vast array of front and back end projects. I work in Yasser's team and on Tom's projects so I veer more towards interaction and application design. When we're developing new sites and services we'll use many a tried and tested design process to help frame our thoughts. These studies give depth to our decisions and help us be more accountable (it's like showing your workings to the teacher).

We all have our User Centered Design (UCD) favourites: stat logs, task analysis, mental models, horizon charts, personae, scenarios, card sorts, paper prototypes, user testing... the list goes on. One of my preferred techniques is 'competitor analysis'. It lies on the fringes of UCD as some of the methods don't require you to canvas for users yet it can give you invaluable clues to their expectations.

Recently I worked on the BBC Programmes Beta (please read Sophie's great introduction and Tom giving praise to the URLs) where the lifeblood, the destination, the epicenter, is the episode page. Without those pages we'd have nothing and without the original TV or Radio broadcast, that AV object, we wouldn't have the episode page. The logical conclusion, in this time of rich media websites, is to have the AV embedded on the page and so instantly the Youtube comparisons arise. How can I ensure we meet our users expectations when introducing these new pages on our website?

Cue: Polar Maps and Topography

polar map and topography diagram montage

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