The BBC is one of the first organisations to use linked data, a strategy for connecting online content which helped to deliver its highly successful Olympics coverage. Here, some of the key players in the BBC’s linked data strategy explain how it gives BBC’s online audience the most comprehensive access to all its content.
Executive technical product manager Oli Bartlett describes how linked data connects the diffuse articles, features, TV and radio content from BBC online in a way that search engines can understand. Sofia Angeletou, senior data architect for the linked data platform, explains how this is achieved by using unique identifiers for each piece of content, which then automatically links all related content to that item.
Yves Raimond, senior engineer for BBC’s internet research and future services, describes how linked data makes the BBC website less opaque to computers by allowing them to differentiate between key concepts such as places and people. As Dan Ramsden, user experience architect, puts it, “using the internet used to be like travelling down narrow passageways”, with data arranged in a simple but inflexible way. Linked data uses domain models, or ontologies, to make the relationships between data a constantly growing tapestry, rather than a linear hierarchy.
"Linked data is a democratic way of distributing and capturing knowledge." – Yves Raimond
The strategy showed its worth during the Olympics, because it meant athlete information could be aggregated using linked data to pull together all the relevant information on any person. This prevented the mammoth job of having to create individual pages for thousands of athletes. As executive product manager Andrew Pipes notes, linked data saves time and effort for both the user and the BBC’s data architects.