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Archives for June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_20080630.html" rel="bookmark">Interesting iPlayer Stuff

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 17:01 UK time, Monday, 30 June 2008

A follow-up to Nick's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_beta_round_up.html">iPlayer Beta Round-Up below.


BBC DG %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/mark_thompson/">Mark Thompson's %3Ca%20href="https://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5a10899e-43af-11dd-842e-0000779fd2ac.html">interview with the FT [see linked video above] has attracted a lot of attention, especially this section, which %3Ca%20href="https://www.brandrepublic.com/News/823509/BBC-launch-device-brings-web-video-onto-TV/">Brand Republic and, among others, %3Ca%20href="https://www.tvsquad.com/2008/06/27/bbc-to-build-iplayer-set-top-box/">TV Squad interpret as a plan to develop a set-top box:

Mark Thompson, BBC director-general, told the Financial Times it was "looking very hard at" forming an alliance to introduce "a very simple standard" for getting online video from computer screens on to standard televisions.
Similar devices such as Apple TV have been on sale for some time but have not gained a mass following.
"There are many things out there in the market, but what we haven't yet got is a simple standard, to mean that you can get services like iPlayer and Kangaroo [a joint venture to deliver archive and popular programmes online]," said Mr Thompson in a video interview.

There are also a few features on iPlayer in today's Online TV supplement to %3Ca%20href="https://www.guardian.co.uk/">The Guardian [not available online], including a graph of the growth:


%3Ca%20href="https://theblogbyadam.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/bbc-iplayer-beta-review/">the.blog.by.adam reviews the beta and ends with a suggestion:

A suggestion I have for the BBC is to add one more function. Well a button, called 'Random Programme'. This would be an excellent feature and would do exactly as it says on the tin. It would give viewers a chance to watch programmes that they wouldn't select normally and it would just add a bit of character to the page as well.

Another review with a lot of detail, %3Ca%20href="https://donaldkelly.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/bbc-iplayer-20-the-review/">from Donald Kelly, ends with an update after %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/james_cridland/">James Cridland feeds back on the feedback:

You can see the response of James Cridland of whom is head of Future Media & Technology in the Audio and Music Interactive team. Phew! What a title!

Phew indeed. %3Ca%20href="https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/25/bbc_iplayer_update/">The Register focuses on navigation of audio content and Last Played (as well as inspiring %3Ca%20href="https://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg09106.html">this characteristic Backstage thread):

Successful negotiations with music rights holders mean the new radio player will let listeners fast forward and rewind in smaller increments. Licensing restrictions on the old BBC radio player mean music stations cannot be rewound, and can only be fast forwarded in chunks of five or 15 minutes.

%3Ca%20href="https://lenina.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/tv-is-broken/">Lenina Crowne, having found her TV broken, is considering moving to just %3Ca%20href="https://www.channel4.com/4od/index.html">4oD and iPlayer [wot no %3Ca%20href="https://www.itv.com/CatchUp/default.html">ITV.com? - Ed].


And at WebTVwire, %3Ca%20href="https://www.webtvwire.com/bbc-iplayer-20-arrives-new-features-galore-for-new-version-of-free-tv-service/">Dave Parrack takes us through the features and concludes:

With the iPlayer now available on PC, Mac, Linux, %3Ca%20href="https://www.webtvwire.com/bbc-iplayer-comes-to-virgin-media-tv/">Virgin Media, the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and %3Ca%20href="https://www.webtvwire.com/bbc-iplayer-web-tv-launches-on-nintendo-wii-console-ps3-xbox-360-to-follow-suit-soon/">Nintendo Wii, the range of devices, and potential audience are increasing all the time.
I predict good times ahead for the BBC on-demand service, but then, they are using our money to fund it.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/mashed_digital_tv.html" rel="bookmark">Mashed Digital TV

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/simon_thompson/">Simon Thompson | 11:52 UK time, Monday, 30 June 2008

This all started what seems an age ago. A while back, you may have read about an internal BBC event, called the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/bbc_festival_of_technology_1.html">Festival of Technology - I was there, and I had a problem!

My project until recently was looking at the signalling required for digital switchover - and I'd recently created an "Autoretune" specification which I needed to present. Unfortunately, most other members of my team also needed presentation space - so I could only have one screen.

To solve the problem, it was decided that the Powerpoint needed to go into the Digital TV feed I was using - so off I went, armed with an old Linux box, and a couple of commercial pieces of TV hardware to make a TV service to show the Powerpoint.

Next door to me at the Festival of Technology was the %3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/">BBC Backstage team who became interested as soon as they realised that, despite all their great work on getting people to use our data, they've never got anyone to hack with our main data feed - the telly.


%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcilabs/2008/06/mashed_digital_tv.html">Read more and comment at the BBCi Labs Blog.

Simon Thompson is a technologist at BBC Research & Innovation, Kingswood Warren.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_beta_round_up.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Beta Round-Up

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 18:02 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

Just in case you hadn't noticed, the beta of the new version of the BBC iPlayer is %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayerbeta/">here.

Help and frequently asked questions for the beta are %3Ca%20href="https://iplayerhelp-stg.external.bbc.co.uk/">here.

As well as leaving comments on the Internet Blog you can always go to the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/">iPlayer message board.

Anthony Rose has %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/04/74f5fa971c8be548ef98ca3889f6ab41ae1cd983.html">in-depth detail about the thinking behind the beta, while Mark Friend %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_radio.html">outlines improvements in listening quality for radio. James Cridland gives %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/under_the_iplayer_hood_for_rad.shtml">even more detail on codecs and bitrates (and James relaxes enough on his personal blog to say %3Ca%20href="https://james.cridland.net/blog/2008/06/26/iplayer-gets-radio-properly-this-time/">he likes the beta). Ian Forrester %3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2008/06/rss_feeds_make.html">highlights the RSS feeds on Backstage. The promotional video is on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_20_promotional_vid.html">this post from Erik Huggers.

There's plenty of feedback on various blogs [%3Ca%20href="https://technorati.com/search/iplayer?authority=a4&language=en">Technorati search | %3Ca%20href="https://blogsearch.google.co.uk/blogsearch?q=iplayer&scoring=d">Google Blogs search].

%3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/b-tal/398433721/">baseball.jpgWhen you're in the middle of a launch of a major BBC product, it's sometimes hard to keep perspective. But a blogger will always provide some. In this case, it's %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.adobe.com/jd/2008/06/bbc_mlb.html">John Dowdell in San Francisco:

Two significant projects hit the web this week. Both were played pretty low-key, but I suspect their longterm significance will be greater.

(One project is the iPlayer beta. The other is %3Ca%20href="https://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp">"the premiere destination for following live baseball on the Internet".)

%3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/b-tal/398433721/">Photo from B Tal on Flickr. Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/people_have_been_asking_about.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Radio: Under The Hood

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/james_cridland/"> James Cridland%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/james_cridland/">James Cridland | 13:53 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/under_the_iplayer_hood_for_rad.shtml">radiolabs175.pngPeople have been asking about the %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bit_rate">bitrates and %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codec">codecs that we're using on national radio within the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayerbeta/">new iPlayer beta.

The quick answer is "they're different per station, they're different whether live or on-demand, and they'll change at least another two times this year". If that satisfies you, you have no requirement to read on. If you want more information, however, I'm happy to help. Note that I'm only talking about national radio, and only for listeners in the UK.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/under_the_iplayer_hood_for_rad.shtml">Read more and comment at BBC Radio Labs blog.

James Cridland is Head of Future Media & Technology for Audio & Music Interactive

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_radio.html" rel="bookmark">BBC iPlayer & Radio

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/mark_friend/"> Mark Friend%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/mark_friend/">Mark Friend | 11:00 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/">bbc_radio.pngOn Wednesday, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose posted a sneak preview of the new %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer - the one with radio built in. This is a %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayerbeta/">beta product at the moment - but, if it's successful, we're hoping it will go fully live in July.

In his post, Anthony hinted at much increased quality of radio streams within iPlayer; today, I'd like to flesh out the detail of what we're doing this summer to improve the whole experience of listening to %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/">BBC Radio online.

radio1_6music.pngIn this post, by "BBC Radio" I mean the national BBC networks like BBC Radio 1, or %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/">BBC Radio 6music - as this is the part of the BBC I work in.

BBC %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/local/">local radio services in England, BBC Radio Cymru and Radio nan Gaidheal, and the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/">World Service) are not included in the new Player now, but will be over the coming months and will be making similar changes in due course. BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle are included in the new iPlayer. More information can be found in the [Update 2008-10-20: link changed %3Ca%20href="https://iplayerhelp-stg.external.bbc.co.uk/templates/bbciplayer/testseo/resultsPage?_mftvst%3Anlpq=%24radio+cymru+world+service+local+radio&_mftvst%3AtopicID=%24&_mftvst%3Aid=%24MU8MAOQ3VT2QVCE6071UJIURMG&_mftvst%3AmoduleID=%24testseo&nlpq=radio+cymru+world+service+local+radio&kb=testseo">help and FAQs section] %3Ca%20href="https://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/templates/bbciplayer/testseo/resultsPage?_mftvst%3Anlpq=%24radio+cymru+world+service+local+radio&_mftvst%3AtopicID=%24&_mftvst%3Aid=%24MU8MAOQ3VT2QVCE6071UJIURMG&_mftvst%3AmoduleID=%24testseo&nlpq=radio+cymru+world+service+local+radio&kb=testseo">help and FAQs section of the iPlayer beta.

For the launch of this new version of BBC iPlayer, we're concentrating on improving the "listen again" service.

  • First, we're removing the need to install RealPlayer if you're listening in the UK. We're not dropping %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/help/faq/download_and_install_realplayer.shtml">RealPlayer entirely (if you've a wifi radio that uses it, don't worry) - but, if you use the BBC iPlayer to listen again in the UK, you'll now be given an embedded %3Ca%20href="https://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/about/">Flash player instead, just like for the television programmes. As a result, it will "just work" for nearly everyone. You also won't need RealPlayer to listen live in the UK - the new iPlayer will use Windows Media Player which should be installed as a default on your PC (a version is also available for Macs!)
  • When you use the current iPlayer for Radio, you can't rewind and can only fast-forward in five minute chunks. As we are integrating radio into the full iPlayer, we will be using the same transport controls as we do for television programmes. If you want to forward through Chris Moyles's show to around 8.00am, you can just click and drag. Easy.
  • Another new feature is that iPlayer will remember what you last played so if you didn't have time to finish it, it's ready to resume when you are.
  • %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/">bbcradio3.pngAnd we're dramatically improving the audio quality for UK listeners. For most stations, we'll be using MP3-streaming at 128k stereo. If you're a fan of serious classical music on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/">BBC Radio 3, we're improving it still further, recognising that classical music requires higher bitrates to do the job well - so Radio 3's listen-again will be at 192k stereo. Mono speech also increases in quality, up to 80k mono. All that means that BBC Radio through the iPlayer will be much better quality.
  • There'll be further changes to our streaming infrastructure later in July: on-demand and live streaming. We'll fill you in with those details nearer the time. In the meantime, I really hope you'll enjoy the start of the tremendous difference in sound quality from iPlayer's listen-again service. For further information about the radio aspects of the new iPlayer, take a look at these %3Ca%20href="https://iplayerhelp-stg.external.bbc.co.uk/">frequently asked questions.

Finally, and for the techies: you might be wondering why we're using streaming %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A406973">MP3, and not %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding">AAC or its cousin %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AAC%2B">AAC+. The very latest version of Flash is capable of using it, but given that much radio listening happens in the workplace, we wanted to ensure that BBC Radio was available to as many people as possible - even those who don't run the latest version of Flash. Watch the changes in July, though.

Transmitting the first radio picture of the King, October 1928
Transmitting the first radio picture of the King, October 1928

Mark Friend is Controller, Multiplatform & Interactive, Audio & Music Interactive

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_the_techcrunch.html" rel="bookmark">Pic Of The Day: The TechCrunch BBC Debate

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 14:19 UK time, Thursday, 26 June 2008

I love the Council Chamber in Broadcasting House.

It's a serious room for serious activity.

Lord Reith glowers down from his portrait on the wall, thoroughly - and (in my view) often sensibly - suspicious of whatever peculiarities are being perpetrated in his name by the assembled occupants.

Yesterday I was there for the %3Ca%20href="https://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/06/25/live-blog-bbc-techcrunch-debate/">TechCrunch BBC Debate. And here's a photograph to prove it.councilchamberx.jpg

%3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mbites/2611337463/">Photo courtesy %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mbites/">Mike Butcher on flickr.

Mike Butcher and James Cridland have blogged it %3Ca%20href="https://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/06/25/live-blog-bbc-techcrunch-debate/">here and %3Ca%20href="https://james.cridland.net/blog/2008/06/26/the-great-bbc-techcrunch-debate/">here. And there's more photos %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=techcrunch+bbc&m=text">here

Tom Loosemore was impressive as always, James Cridland stood up for radio and Tony Ageh and Jem Stone were calm and rational. I talked far too much I (I look rather alarming at close range on video!) but I was having one of those days.

But the point of these events is not so much the opinions expressed. More important is that people have a chance to meet the right person at the BBC - the person who might just be able to help them do what they want to do.

The BBC Internet blog is involved in an event in the Council Chamber in July. More details soon.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_20_promotional_vid.html" rel="bookmark">BBC iPlayer 2.0: Promotional Video

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/erik_huggers/"> Erik Huggers%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/erik_huggers/">Erik Huggers | 10:32 UK time, Thursday, 26 June 2008

Yesterday, we %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/06_june/25/iplayer.shtml">unveiled the next-generation BBC iPlayer - launching as %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayerbeta/">a beta today and running alongside the existing site till 7 July.

For the first time, BBC audiences will get the BBC's TV and Radio content truly in one place, together and fully integrated. This joins up two world-leading BBC products for our audiences, taking our on-demand services to a whole new level.

Look out for improved categories, bigger playback screen, TV schedules, last played and much more.

On top of that, sound quality will be better and we will offer smooth navigation between BBC Radio and TV programmes opening up whole new areas to users - like Jonathan Ross on TV and Radio, all with a great new User Experience including swoopy carousels! Why not take a peek at the latest %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/emp/iplayerbeta/">promotional film?

In order to see this content you need to have both %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/browse/java_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about enabling javascript">Javascript enabled and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/download/howdoidownloadflashplayer_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about downloading">Flash installed. Visit %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/">BBC Webwise for full instructions

Anthony Rose has more details %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_20_sneak_preview.html">here.

Erik Huggers is Group Controller, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_iplayer_20_sneak_preview.html" rel="bookmark">BBC iPlayer 2.0: Sneak Preview

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Post categories: %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/audioandmusic/" rel="tag" title="">Radio & Music%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer/" rel="tag" title="">iPlayer

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/"> Anthony Rose%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose | 11:54 UK time, Wednesday, 25 June 2008

BBC iPlayer %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/iplayer_launch_first_indicatio.html">launched officially on Christmas Day, on PC, Mac and Linux.

First, in January, we "pimped up" the iPlayer site by adding Most Popular, Just In, Last Chance and More Like This zones.

In February, we made %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/03/bbc_iplayer_on_iphone_behind_t.html">iPlayer available on Apple iPhone. Then, in March, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/04/bbc_iplayer_on_wii.html">we made iPlayer available on Nintendo Wii.

So... what's next? It's time to let the cat out of the bag and tell you about the next big thing that we're working on: an all-new iPlayer website.

The existing iPlayer website works really well, and has proven hugely successful. However, in Internet Land nothing stays still for long and the iPlayer site that you see now is based on a somewhat inflexible static-page-rendering platform that's now over a year old.

That technology platform has proven robust and reliable, but we've pushed it to the limit in terms of features that we can add using the existing site architecture. It's now time to move onto an all-new dynamic-page-rendering architecture which will give us with a platform that can provide a personalised TV and radio experience, can adapt itself to different display sizes - and a whole lot more.

But enough preamble: here's a sneak preview of BBC iPlayer 2.0. which will be launching as a %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayerbeta/">beta %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/06_june/25/iplayer.shtml">very soon..

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/microformats_and_rdfa_and_rdf.html" rel="bookmark">Microformats, RDFa & RDF

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/michael_smethurst/"> Michael Smethurst%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/michael_smethurst/">Michael Smethurst | 11:35 UK time, Wednesday, 25 June 2008

My original post on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml">removing microformats from /programmes seems to have kicked off %3Ca%20href="https://ejohn.org/blog/bbc-removing-microformat-support/">quite a debate. Unfortunately, some of this seems to have resulted in RDFa people criticising microformats and vice versa. Which wasn't really the intention.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/microformats_and_rdfa_and_rdf.shtml">Read more and comment at the BBC Radio Labs blog.

Michael Smedhurst is an Information Architect at BBC Audio & Music Interactive.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_20080625.html" rel="bookmark">Interesting Stuff 2008-06-25

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 10:01 UK time, Wednesday, 25 June 2008


%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/thefuture/submission.shtml">psb_submission175.pngThe chart above is from the document %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/thefuture/submission.shtml">BBC Response To Ofcom's Second Public Service Broadcasting Review, Phase 1 [%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/thefuture/pdf/bbc_submission.pdf">pdf], showing one of the differences in audio behaviour when %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/">TV is compared to %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer:

Figures from the BBC's own sites demonstrate the emerging power of gateways. These figures show that the iPlayer homepage is highly influential in driving the reach and usage of programmes, and this has led to programmes from BBC Three and BBC Four breaking through into the top ten of non-linear viewing, whereas in the linear world BBC viewing is dominated by BBC One and BBC Two.

There's an overlap here with BBC TWO Controller %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/biographies/biogs/controllers/rolykeating.shtml">Roly Keating's speech, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/speeches/stories/keating_tardis.shtml">Time And Relative Dimensions In Space: The BBC's Digital Strategy In A World Beyond Boundaries to the Broadcast Digital Channels Conference 2008 [%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_130608.html">as blogged below], which you can now re-read with all the snazzy slides:

%3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/?src=embed">SlideShare | %3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/bbccouk/time-and-relative-dimensions-in-space-the-bbcs-digital-strategy-in-a-world-beyond-boundaries?src=embed" title="View Time And Relative Dimensions In Space: The BBC's Digital Strategy In A World Beyond Boundaries on SlideShare">View | %3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/upload?src=embed">Upload your own

Juliette Garside %3Ca%20href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/06/24/cnbbc124.xml">writes in The Telegraph that "[t]he BBC wants to develop a technology that would enable video posted on the internet to be watched on television sets":

The Freeview-style platform would be jointly developed and marketed by public service broadcasters and internet service providers, and its technology licensed to set-top box manufacturers.
Viewers could then watch from the comfort of their sofas the shows available online and on demand from the BBC's iPlayer, Channel 4's 4OD and ITV.com.

More on this from %3Ca%20href="https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2008/06/bbc_in_discussion_to_set_iptv_standard.html">Broadcast magazine.


Our next chart is from Fabric Of Folly, a blog by the Beeb's Dan Taylor where he %3Ca%20href="https://www.fabricoffolly.com/2008/06/google-trends-for-websites.html">uses Google Trends to look at the behaviour of users of bbc.co.uk:

Whilst the statistical robustness of this data is clearly questionable, it nevertheless provides an interesting insight into the behaviours around some of the web's biggest properties (%3Ca%20href="https://www.techcrunch.com/2008/06/21/google-trends-for-websites-rocks-unless-you-want-data-on-google/">Google excepted). Whilst similar data can be obtained (for a fee) from companies like %3Ca%20href="https://www.hitwise.com/">Hitwise, this is the first time - to my knowledge - that "Also visited" and "Also searched for" data has been made freely available in this way.

Michael Smethurst's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml">post on the BBC Radio Labs blog about the decision to remove the hCalendar microformat from %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes">/programmes has stimulated %3Ca%20href="https://blogsearch.google.co.uk/blogsearch?q=bbc+microformats">a lot of discussion on blogs.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcilabs/">bbci_labs115.pngA new blog on the block is the place for all things red button, Freeview, cable iPlayer, etc - %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcilabs/">BBCi Labs [%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcilabs/rss.xml">rss] :

This blog is where the BBC TV Platforms Group write about what we're working on, what we've learnt, and show off some of our internal prototypes

%3Ca%20href="https://www.ukuug.org/events/opentech2008/">opentech08Across %3Ca%20href="https://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg09091.html">on the Backstage mailing list, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ian_forrester/">Ian Forrester gives some details of what's coming up chez Backstage, for those who missed the talk at %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_mashed08_sun.html">Mashed:

  • "The new Backstage website is now publicly available at %3Ca%20href="https://welcomebackstage.com/">welcomebackstage.com as a beta. Please be gentle and bear in mind it needs a lot more work (I'm quite sick at the moment).
  • We're attending and sometimes sponsoring a range of events including %3Ca%20href="https://www.ukuug.org/events/opentech2008/">Open Tech 2008 and %3Ca%20href="https://singularity08.com/">Singularity. For Manchester, we're considering starting %3Ca%20href="https://geekdinner.co.uk/">geekdinners or supporting %3Ca%20href="https://geekup.org/">GeekUp.
  • The %3Ca%20href="https://www.oreillygmt.co.uk/2007/06/hack_day_london.html">Wild West Servers trial has been a success and we're adding more for next year. We may also start offering outside access for certain experimental projects.
  • The %3Ca%20href="https://welcomebackstage.com/api.html">API gateway is up and running. So expect some APIs coming soon, including a complete events API from PA Press.
  • We working on new podcasts and videocasts, and hope to have some on %3Ca%20href="https://itconversation.com/">ItConversation.
  • We're launching our openleaning and tv backstage some point soon.
  • There will be a competition to redesign the logos, tshirts, etc.
  • We have a new recruit called %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.backnetwork.com/people/person.aspx?personid=874">Rain Ashford, who's starting in July; her main focus will be South/London, while I'll focus on North/Manchester."

And finally: %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer makes %3Ca%20href="https://www.wordmagazine.co.uk/content/magazine">Word Magazine's list of the twenty best things about the internet. Yay! But... %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/messageboards/newguide/">BBC Message Boards makes the %3Ca%20href="https://www.wordmagazine.co.uk/content/worst-internet">twenty worst. Boo!


Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/mashrock_launch_at_mashed_08.html" rel="bookmark">Mashrock Launch #Mashed08

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 16:56 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Further to %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_mashed_rocket.html"> the picture of the "Mash-rock" video rocket, %3Ca%20href="https://blip.tv/file/1019848/">here's a video featuring the BBC's Ant Miller explaining more. And you can see the actual launch! Blast off!

Video courtesy of Radio Five Live's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/podsandblogs/">Pods and Blogs, whose podcast this week goes to Mashed. MP3 %3Ca%20href="https://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/fivelive/pods/pods_20080624-1618.mp3">here.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_mashed_rocket.html" rel="bookmark">Pic Of The Day: Mashed Rocket

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 14:30 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008


This image graces the front of the new edition of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/info/ariel/">Ariel, the BBC's in-house magazine. It was taken at %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_mashed08_sun.html">Mashed, the Beeb's weekend of hacking, it reflects those parts of the hackathon that were less about code and feeds and more about matters physical and propulsive and it's labelled thusly:

Rocket man Ant Miller did his best to take the BBC a little closer to the world of space exploration and became a high achiever.
The technology project manager in FM&T was taking part in the Mashed event at Alexandra Palace, London at the weekend.
Together with 'payload specialist' Bruce James from the iPlayer team, he launched a rocket carrying a tiny video camera which sent images back to a laptop-based 'ground station'.
The rocket reached an altitude of around 700 feet on a blustery afternoon which would have bested even Nasa. But accessing the video images proved to be a greater problem.
Says Miller: "Bruce tried valiantly to extract useful pix, but even the Met Police forensic video people there couldn't get a result." Luckily, Bruce had a long trip home and figured out a fix. "Now we have some, admittedly hazy, but exciting footage,' says Miller.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/mashed_its_all_over.html" rel="bookmark">Mashed08: It's All Over

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/matthew_cashmore/">Matthew Cashmore | 14:30 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk" style="border: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px">Mashed08: London, June 21/2 2008That's it, another year, another massive event at Alexandra Palace. I spent yesterday mainly sleeping, one and half hours sleep is not conducive to maximum brain power - and may explain why I genuinely jumped out of my skin when the explosion (which I had organised) went off just three feet behind me during the presentations.

It's fair to say that I'm really happy with the way things went - I have some thoughts about how we can make it better next year - but by a long way the feedback we've been getting is extremely positive. The Guardian spent all weekend there, and blogged like crazy over at %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/06/_mshed_2008_the_final_furlong.html">PDA, Ewan Spence wrote %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7470057.stm">a nice piece about it over at BBC News and the %3Ca%20href="https://www.oreillygmt.co.uk/">O'Reilly GMT guys went video crazy.

%3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2008/06/mashed_its_all.html">Read more at the Backstage blog.

Matthew Cashmore is Senior Research Producer, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/removing_microformats.html" rel="bookmark">Removing Microformats

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/michael_smethurst/"> Michael Smethurst%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/michael_smethurst/">Michael Smethurst | 10:24 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml">bbc_programmes_hcalendar.pngSince %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes">/programmes first %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2007/11/a_page_for_every_programme_1.html">went live we've been working to ensure that programme data was accessible to people and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/05/helping_machines_play_with_pro.shtml">machines alike. The API design was baked in at the application design stage. Similarly we've worked on adding %3Ca%20href="/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml/ext/_auto/-/https://microformats.org/">microformats to HTML pages as a lightweight API. All %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/programmes/schedules/2008/06/23">broadcasts use the %3Ca%20href="/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml/ext/_auto/-/https://microformats.org/wiki/hcalendar">hCalendar microformat to add start times, end times, broadcast channels etc.

Unfortunately there have been a %3Ca%20href="/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml/ext/_auto/-/https://www.webstandards.org/2007/04/27/haccessibility/">number of concerns over hCalendar's use of the %3Ca%20href="/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml/ext/_auto/-/https://microformats.org/wiki/abbr-design-pattern">abbreviation design pattern. This uses the HTML abbreviation element to add machine data to pages. Our concerns were:

  • the effect on blind users using screen readers with abbreviation expansion turned on where abbreviations designed for machines would be read out
  • the effect on partially sighted users using screen readers where tool tips of abbreviations designed for machines would be read out
  • the effect of incomprehensible tooltips on users with cognitive disabilities
  • the potential fencing off of abbreviations to domains that need them (travel - %3Ca%20href="/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml/ext/_auto/-/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IATA_airport_code">airport codes, finance - %3Ca%20href="/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml/ext/_auto/-/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticker_symbol">ticker symbols etc)

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/removing_microformats_from_bbc.shtml">Read more and comment at the Radio Labs blog.

Michael Smethurst is an Information Architect at BBC Audio & Music Interactive.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_20080623.html" rel="bookmark">Interesting Stuff 2008-06-24

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 09:00 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Media Guardian's Mark Sweeney has a piece titled %3Ca%20href="https://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/23/bbc.television2">BBC: 'We'll Share Expertise To Save Licence Fee' covering "practical partnerships" and ending with some possibilities regarding %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iptv/">IPTV:

The BBC has also suggested that it could play an important "content-led role" to encourage the 20% of the UK population that are predicted still not to have broadband connections by 2012.
There is an opportunity to work with other public service broadcasters and internet service providers to set a "simple, open standard" to deliver internet television to TV sets, according to the BBC.

Information architect Karen Loasby %3Ca%20href="https://www.iaplay.com/2008/06/23/an-embarrassment-of-programme-support/">recalls a time at the Beeb before %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">iPlayer, the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/catalogue_offline.shtml">Catalogue, the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/">archives projects and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes">/programmes:

But most programmes had no coverage (a temporary schedule snippet notwithstanding) as I discovered in my first few weeks at the BBC. Part of my job was to respond to users who had emailed us via the 'contact us' link on the search engine. Query after query asked for information about a programme recently and not so recently seen or heard. We resorted to back catalogues of RadioTimes and lots of apologetically framed replies.

Radio Times window display at 37 Tothill Street, Westminster, London, 01/01/1939
Radio Times window display at 37 Tothill Street, Westminster, London, 01/01/1939

In advance of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jonathan_hassell/">Jonathan Hassell's event at BAFTA, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bafta.org/calendar-event.html?btype=day&Gday=20080630000000">Beyond Inclusion: Removing Barriers To Working With Disabled People, Nick Kind %3Ca%20href="https://nickkind.blogspot.com/2008/06/jonathan-hassell-at-bbc-who-i-worked.html">writes:

Jonathan Hassell at the BBC - who I worked closely with on a project for blind learners - has an interesting idea about accessibility which I think deserves wider hearing. It sits - sometimes uncomfortably, for me at least - alongside an often-peddled notion that "designing something to be accessible will mean that it's more usable for everybody".

From the BBC Image Library: "Blind listener, Mr Oransby [right], listening to his Crystal Radio Set with headphones, December 1929"

Rhona Perry at the %3Ca%20href="https://ofcompsbreview.typepad.com/ofcompsbreview/about-this-blog.html">Ofcom PSB Review blog is %3Ca%20href="https://ofcompsbreview.typepad.com/ofcompsbreview/2008/06/feeling-popular.html">going through the feedback re the review:

Phew... I'm starting to know what Valentine's Day should feel like... we've been inundated with letters, cards and emails responding to the PSB Review. With over 230 responses received at the last count, we're going to have our work cut out over the coming days and weeks as we review them all.

And finally, %3Ca%20href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2176281/BBC-forced-by-viewer-pressure-to-stop-squeezing-credits.html">Neil Midgley in The Telegraph writes about the return of BBC credits:

Most importantly, the "quarter-screen" end credits will be phased out, with credits once again being large enough for viewers can read them. The precise format has yet to be decided, but may well mean that the credits will fill at least half the screen.
End credit information will also be posted on programmes' individual pages on the BBC website.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_hd_tv_update.html" rel="bookmark">BBC HD TV Update

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/seetha_kumar/"> Seetha Kumar%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/seetha_kumar/">Seetha Kumar | 12:02 UK time, Monday, 23 June 2008

Two weeks ago, I was in Geneva talking to colleagues at the %3Ca%20href="https://www.ebu.ch/">European Broadcasting Union about how we increase the hours of High Definition TV programming. You may like to know that this is a common challenge shared by all European broadcasters and pooling our collective brains seems like a sensible step in the right direction.

Going through some recent comments on Digital Spy, %3Ca%20href="https://www.forum.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=818898">Gamercraig muses:

I thought when the channel, i.e. %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbchd/">BBC HD was no longer a trial, the Beeb said it would be increasing the hours. Maybe some of the problem is that they only broadcast true-HD programmes rather than upscaled, and that HD is still somewhat in its infancy here.

Gamercraig is right; HD is still in its infancy.

At the BBC, we have increased our hours considerably since we started, going up from 500 hours during the first year of the trial to over 1,000 this year. We do plan to keep up the pace. There is a lot more work to be done - with training, etc. - but the biggest hurdle is the lack of those small lightweight cameras in the market. We need manufacturers to make them, even as we keep trying to find intelligent ways of getting the costs down. More and more landmark programmes at the BBC are now being made in HD. So, the increase in hours will happen, but it will take time.

I do agree with %3Ca%20href="https://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=818898">Rjmachin (from the same thread) that BBC HD is right in not simulcasting. Had the channel been a pure simulcast channel of BBC ONE, then we could not have shown great shows from other channels - such as %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/heroes/">Heroes, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/torchwood/">Torchwood, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/wildchina/">Wild China, or indeed the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/chelsea/">Chelsea Flower Show.

For sports fans, BBC HD in the next coming weeks is a daily treat. %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/euro_2008/default.stm">Euros, %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6102132.stm">Wimbledon and - in a very short while and for the first time in the UK - you can see the Olympics in glorious HD. I sympathise though with %3Ca%20href="https://digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?p=24802595">Dennis Spooner who hates football and doubts if he will look at much Wimbledon, though I think he is missing a lot if he does not: Wimbledon is mesmerising in HD. Even I, who am not sports mad, can be riveted. And I agree with him that the idea that either of these events would not be in HD is outrageous. It's the sort of thing HD is made for.


It's also why we cannot show a great new drama, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/criminaljustice/">Criminal Justice, which is being stripped across BBC ONE from 30th June to 4th July. It clashed with Wimbledon, but we will be playing it on Thursdays at 2100 starting the following week on Thursday 10th July.

All the comments I read have got me thinking even more about the trials of starting something new, especially when it involves changes all across the broadcast chain. This is what HD broadcasting in a nutshell entails.

What %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_hd_eurovision_sound_proble.html">happened with Eurovision was an isolated incident, but it does flush out teething problems with a technology that is still evolving. The issues are not just how we internally deal with problems when they occur and what lessons we can learn. It's also about how we get better at communicating with those of you who are our testbed samplers of a technology that can achieve those moment of magic all programme-makers dream about, but which we all realise is still in its formative years..

Wildarpanet %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_hd_eurovision_sound_proble.html">asked what contingency plans we have when %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_hd_eurovision_sound_proble.html">disasters like Eurovision strike. During the BBC HD trial and during the regulatory process, there were strict funding restrictions. Now that we are a channel, we are able to build resilience but we are doing it to a channel that is on air 24/7. It's the live programmes that root out the problems, and currently our fall back is SD transmission. Live 5.1 transmissions are complicated. I have asked experts who openly acknowledge this. Some among you may disagree. I will only point to Dolby acknowledging in their press release (view the press release %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/img/W08_19529_Audio_Mode_Switching.pdf"">here) that there is an issue with some domestic equipment...

Some comfort there. We are all learning together.


Seetha Kumar is Head of BBC HDTV.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_mashed08_sun.html" rel="bookmark">Pic Of The Day: #mashed08 2

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 15:23 UK time, Sunday, 22 June 2008

At %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.backnetwork.com/">mashed08, the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/index_seventh.shtml">Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy has relinquished relieved [edited 2008-06-23 - %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_mashed08_sun.html">see below] %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/matthew_cashmore/">Matt Cashmore of his MCing duties and is now taking Ally Pally through hacks small and large, social-minded and silly, ingenious and really ingenious.


%3Ca%20href="https://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=XJILa2JA3RGl3YVXy6ky6g">mashed08_map.pngTo complement the %3Ca%20href="https://www.pageflakes.com/radio4/23471097">Mashed Pageflake, we've created %3Ca%20href="https://pipes.yahoo.com/alanconnor/mashed08">a Yahoo! Pipe [%3Ca%20href="feed://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.run?_id=XJILa2JA3RGl3YVXy6ky6g&_render=rss">rss] that combines the data from various feeds, including (hopefully) the %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.backnetwork.com/feeds/">posts from the backnetwork [%3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.backnetwork.com/feeds/rss/">rss] so that anyone that didn't make it to Alexandra Palace can keep up with the hacks and what becomes of them once they're released into the wild.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 17:01 UK time, Saturday, 21 June 2008

As you can see from the %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.backnetwork.com/">backnetwork, %3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/">Mashed08 is now in live beta and Alexandra Palace is replete with patient-faced geeks and smiling n00bs.


The Guardian's Jemima Kiss is blogging in rich detail at %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/">PDA, or you can get a sense of the bewildering range of hacks, mashups and prototypes at, among other places, %3Ca%20href="https://technorati.com/search/mashed08?authority=a4&language=en">Technorati [%3Ca%20href="https://feeds.technorati.com/search/mashed08?authority=n&language=n">rss], %3Ca%20href="https://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=mashed08&ie=UTF-8&scoring=d">Google Blog Search [%3Ca%20href="https://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch_feeds?hl=en&q=mashed08&scoring=d&ie=utf-8&num=10&output=rss">rss], %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=mashed08">Flickr, [%3Ca%20href="https://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?tags=mashed08&lang=en-us&format=rss_200">rss], %3Ca%20href="https://del.icio.us/tag/mashed08">Delicious, [%3Ca%20href="https://del.icio.us/rss/tag/mashed08">rss] and %3Ca%20href="https://summize.com/search?q=mashed08">Twitter via Summize, [%3Ca%20href="https://summize.com/search.atom?q=mashed08">rss] - all of which are collated at %3Ca%20href="https://www.pageflakes.com/radio4/23471097">this Pageflake.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/linux_ubuntu_blog.html" rel="bookmark">Testing Linux Ubuntu

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ashley_highfield/">Ashley Highfield | 12:02 UK time, Friday, 20 June 2008

I started this blog post when I was on paternity leave with my first child, thinking I'd get it finished over a few days in my spare time.

Fool. As any of you with children know, there is no spare time with a newborn.

So, here I am now, having lived with - and used when I can - an %3Ca%20href="https://www.ubuntu.com/">Ubuntu %3Ca%20href="https://www.linux.org/">Linux laptop for the last couple of months. I've been %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/04/pic_of_the_day_installfest.html">trying it out alongside my usual laptop (Sony Vaio running Windows XP), my new MacBook Pro, and a Vista notebook that we also have in the house.

Firstly, the most obvious advantage of Linux is that it's free (as in cost).

Free is a big advantage. It will, I hope, presage an entirely new range of inexpensive Linux-powered laptops - such as the %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elonex_ONE">Elonex £100 machine - that might fulfil an increasing need for web surfing (and iPlayer-type A/V consumption) on the move, with a bigger screen than phone handsets allow (notwithstanding the beauty of the iPhone's display), but much cheaper, smaller and simpler than current laptops.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.gnu.org/">ashley_gnu.pngThe second big advantage of Linux is also obvious: it's free as in speech - or %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software">"open source" - and therefore any code created on this machine would be available to anyone else, free. (Not that I am about to start hacking into the LAMP stack, my serious coding days ended with Oracle some 14 years ago.)

I make these rather obvious unique-selling-proposition points about Linux because on their own - free and open source, they may well be compelling enough reasons for many to go the Linux route. Putting that aside though, I am intrigued as to how well Ubuntu stacks up as a consumer proposition, next to the might of %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Windows">Windows and %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS">MacOS.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.linux.org/">ashley_tux.pngAgain, for many, this home test might be seen as a pointless exercise, as Linux is currently more frequently used at the enterprise level. (Indeed, a good proportion of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/">bbc.co.uk runs on Linux servers.) The reason for Linux's use in corporations is usually because of its extremely compelling combination of price, performance, reliability and maintainability benefits borne out of (if I understood %3Ca%20href="https://www.jonobacon.org/?p=1135">Jono Bacon correctly), both its relative simplicity / elegance of the design of the core %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system">OS, and the fact that at any one time there are literally hundreds of thousands of developers around the world working on improving the code.

But if Linux is going to be a substitute for Windows / MacOS, then I believe it needs to be an easy-to-use, reliable consumer proposition too. I'm no expert tester, so the following comments are merely my own, personal, experiences.

So, I did the ten things I might most commonly do on my XP machine, on the Linux laptop:

1. Installing the OS With the help of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/george_wright/">George in the office, we %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/02/ubuntu_installfest.html">put Ubuntu Linux on to an HP laptop. %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/02/pic_of_the_day_ubuntu_installf.html">Installation was straightforward.

Initial impressions of an OS with all the tools you need, but without extraneous, memory and hard-disk gobbling consumer apps that I won't use.

2. First thing at home, accessing my wifi Elegant. Easier than Windows: just worked; no hassles. Trying this at work: easy, and get a list of all available networks with the signal-strength of each network displayed in a simple well-designed table. Logging on the next time, it connects automatically and incredibly quickly to the office wifi. I'm already starting to like this.

3. On to the web, and to the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk">BBC homepage Using %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefox">Firefox, which over the last couple of weeks, appears more stable than %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_explorer">Windows IE, and on a par with the Mac's %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safari_%28web_browser%29">Safari. Initially needed help to get it to display new BBC homepage properly, and the clock in the top right still sits on a black background rather than the colour of the rest of the page. Small quibbles, and ones that are probably caused by our setup rather than Firefox on Linux.

4. Go to %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer Streaming works beautifully. Download service to come (please do not make all your comments about this point, which has been discussed before on this blog for example %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/02/iplayer_choices.html">here).

5. Installing %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype">Skype With my sister living in Oz, and now an auntie, getting Skype video up and running has a new impetus. Installing the Ubuntu FeistyFawn version of Skype was easy, but I couldn't get access (Server connect failed message). On Windows and Mac, everything worked fine, first time.

It turned out I had installed an old version of Skype (I suppose quite easy when there is no central management of software releases for the few non- free / open source applications on Linux). The external webcam I have also worked out of the box with Windows (obviously, as it had a Windows disk), but I could not find any driver easily that worked with Linux.


George Wright to the rescue with both of these issues, finding the latest version of Skype (albeit a rather simpler version than the Windows one), and, after a long hunt, finding a driver for the external video webcam. I appreciate a lot of drivers are preinstalled, but I'm starting to feel that perhaps the Linux OS is not aimed at my kind of usage (or my lack of time to invest in getting it all set up right).

6. Try some online banking Annoyingly, my bank explicitly doesn't allow access using Linux, for security reasons. Note to self: change to an "open" bank. Actually, what are the implications, if any, of trying online banking via Linux? Do any / most banks enable access? A partial list of UK banks and their support for GNU/ Linux is available %3Ca%20href="https://mjr.towers.org.uk/blog/2007/banking.html">here - but I have no idea of its accuracy.

7. Before progressing any further, decide to update my OS There are 67 updates: this is either great news, or a worrying sign of work-in-progress. The updates took 20 minutes to install. Didn't need me to reboot the computer though, nice.

8. Getting photos from my phone onto %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/">Flickr Now an easy task. Uploading photos from USB memory stick reader to Flickr. First, the card was instantly recognised and photos dragged to the desktop. Great. Then tried to install a Linux Flickr photo uploader. Flickr themselves don't offer one, so went to their recommended link to jUploadr. Unfortunately, the site was down.

Right, let's use their web-based form (at this point I discover that the screen flips sideways if you have a dialog box wider than the screen to a new "workspace": beautiful). The web-based photo uploader worked, and latest photos now on Flickr.

9. Then played around with image editing software on my desktop Basic, but simple and slick. This is becoming a theme with Linux. Don't expect the bells and whistles or much support from other websites (e.g. my bank, Flickr, Skype, some p2p sites etc.) and you'll be fine.

10. Finally, editing this blog post in word processor %3Ca%20href="https://www.openoffice.org/">OpenOffice Very similar to MS Office's Word. Saving the file in the open ".odt" format means of course that Microsoft Word refuses to recognise it. I am starting to feel the open source community's frustration! I could have saved in Word format but this wasn't obvious at first, and a slightly scary dialogue box suggests that this is a Bad Thing to do.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.ubuntu.com/">ashley_ubuntu.pngSo, there you have it. I've enjoyed using Ubuntu, it has a simplicity and elegance that I like and some great features that other OSes don't have (and I appreciate that I've only been scratching the surface). And it's free.

But I'd say it's horses for courses. For enterprise-side usage, or as a developers' workstation, or as a cheap platform for people with a fair amount of time on their hands and a willingness to deal with all the websites that only vaguely support Linux, fine.

For me, as a day to day operating system, would I churn from Windows or MacOS for it? Not yet; perhaps in a year or two. Critically though, I think the BBC can, and should, do more to support the Free and Open Source community, and I hope this has at least shown my commitment to listen and learn!

Ashley Highfield is Director, BBC Future Media & Technology

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ashley_highfield/">Ashley Highfield | 13:04 UK time, Thursday, 19 June 2008

...if they knowingly carry illegal content?

%3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7444390.stm">This issue has been around for as long as the net has (%3Ca%20href="https://www.internet-juridique.com/control.php">see this from 12 years ago).

And it's a really tricky one, and one risks upsetting all interested parties here, not least the ISPs, the %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7452621.stm">music rights holders, and the %3Ca%20href="https://www.openrightsgroup.org/about-org/">Open Rights Group (ORG).

But it's also a critical issue that is not to be ducked.

I am at heart a proponent of %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_neutrality">net neutrality: for example, I believe that ISPs should deliver traffic over their pipes for the same price, irrespective of the value of the content. The user wants to be able to choose their ISP confident that all (legal) content will be treated in the same way.

But ISPs increasingly do have the ability to easily determine the type of content going over their lines (to "traffic shape" or "packet sniff"), so should they in any way be responsible? If they can, should they stop illegal traffic? The music industry %3Ca%20href="https://www.bpi.co.uk/index.asp?Page=news/press/news_content_file_1126.shtml">thinks they should as part of a wider "value recognition right".

The Open Rights Group thinks they shouldn't. In %3Ca%20href="https://www.openrightsgroup.org/press/press-releases/music-industry-proposes-isp-tax/">a press release last week (n.b. correction 3 p.m. - this press release is in fact from 2006), > two years ago the then executive director Suw Charman countered said: "This proposal [of a grouping of music industry bodies] is ill-conceived and grasping. Suggesting that ISPs and telcos should be responsible for the content transferred by their users illustrates how poorly the music industry understand the net."

This is also increasingly a political issue, with Labour and Conservative apparently taking a broadly similar line. Last week at the Broadband Convergence Thinktank, the culture secretary Andy Burnham took the line that "[w]hat is unacceptable offline should not be acceptable online, whether it was fraud, child porn, or theft of intellectual property." [From %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/organgrinder/2008/06/when_a_hundred_or_so.html">Andy Burnham: Is The Culture Secretary Right To Call For Tighter Policing Of Qeb Content? at the Guardian's %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/organgrinder/">Organgrinder.] As far as I can make out, this merely reiterates a view espoused by Conservative party leader David Cameron %3Ca%20href="https://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=news.story.page&obj_id=137465&speeches=1%29">a year ago where he said :

ISPs can block access and indeed close down offending file-sharing sites. They have already established the Internet Watch Foundation to monitor child abuse and incitement to racial hatred on the internet.They should be doing the same when it comes to digital piracy.

Perhaps if the ISPs do not install packet-sniffing content, i.e. remain truly net neutral, they cannot and should not be forced to monitor content.

Perhaps the ISPs risk bringing this on themselves.

If the ISPs do install sophisticated software, with the intention of filtering content and implementing variable charging, then perhaps they should at that point also become more responsible for making a reasonable effort to stop illegal traffic.

Charman says the said that proposals to make ISPs responsible for content sent down their pipes are: "like charging the Post Office a fee in case some of the packages it delivers have illegally copied CDs in them, and making them responsible for the contents of every parcel they deliver."

That got me wondering whether the Post Office does have any obligations to stop or report illegal content. In fact, it's almost the opposite: the Post Office has specific immunity from prosecution for carrying illegal content under Article 96 of the %3Ca%20href="https://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2000/ukpga_20000026_en_1">Postal Act 2000 (a fun couple of hours spent last night trawling through this act). And I can't find any obligation on the Post Office to not carry content that they might know to be illegal. In fact, it seems the only time the Post Office can go sniffing for content is when ordered to by the secretary of state in the interest of national security or to "facilitate the attainment of any object which the Secretary of State considers it necessary".

%3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/gruts/800405151/">Image from %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/gruts/">Richard Carter on Flickr.

But this is perhaps the point: the Post Office has no idea what is being carried, and has no technology to do so. If the ISPs implement such technology to try and shape traffic, are they opening Pandora's Box to a world where they are then also required to report users' illegal content down and uploading?

Ashley Highfield is Director, BBC Future Media & Technology

N.B. Editors note. This blog post was originally published yesterday and contained a factual error which has now been corrected (changes can be viewed above). Our apologies.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 10:49 UK time, Thursday, 19 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk" style="border: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px">Mashed08: London, June 21/2 2008%3Ca%20href="https://www.netmag.co.uk/zine/discover-interview/q-a-matthew-cashmore">.net interviews BBC Backstage's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/matthew_cashmore/">Matt Cashmore about why the BBC does Hack Days, streaming BBC1, and what to expect from %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.eventbrite.com/">Mashed08:

The biggest star of all, though, is Alexandra Palace itself. For the first time since 1956 it'll actually be broadcasting TV again! The signal is only live for the weekend, and it's there to allow developers, for the first time, to be able to hack the interactive services around live TV. We're rebroadcasting BBC One, so you can hack Country File on Sunday morning, but there'll be two other channels, both of which will be throwing out tutorials and other content from people like O'Reilly.

Matt's also %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/podsandblogs/">interviewed on this week's Pods & Blogs from BBC Radio Five Live and on the %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/06/25/podcast_watson_attenborough_and_hackday.html">Guardian's Tech Podcast [%3Ca%20href="https://download.guardian.co.uk/audio/1213737956679/8617/gdn.tec.080617.sc.Tech_Weekly.mp3">mp3] and Ewan Spence offers %3Ca%20href="https://www.ewanspence.com/blog/2008/06/18/top-ten-tips-to-survive-the-bbc-mashed-experience/">Top Ten Tips To Survive The BBC Mashed Experience:

* Non Programmers Can Have Fun Too
While Mashed is billed as a programmers event, and there will certainly be a lot of code hacking going along, you don't need to be a hacker to actually enjoy yourself.

We mentioned %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_20080616.html">below a %3Ca%20href="https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2008/06/iplayer_to_include_radio_content.html">presentation by BBC iPlayer big kahuna Anthony Rose; Anthony has now given us the slides, which you can see below.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/?src=embed">SlideShare | %3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/bbccouk/programme-making-for-the-download-generation?src=embed" title="View Programme Making For The Download Generation on SlideShare">View | %3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/upload?src=embed">Upload your own

%3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/06/future_of_journalism_chasing_r.html">Bobbie Johnson blogs Danny Cohen (Controller, BBC THREE) at the %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/06/_future_of_journalism_the_sche.html">Future Of Journalism: Chasing Ratings debate on Tuesday:

Combining the way TV producers and online producers work is hard, and can cause problems. One example is that they just move at different speeds; TV producers move quicker. The web world has a way of thinking that it'll just happen when it happens...

A %3Ca%20href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/">WhatDoTheyKnow user called %3Ca%20href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/chris_2">Chris has received a reply to his %3Ca%20href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/bbc_iplayer">Freedom Of Information request concerning %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer.

Finally, the Firefox team %3Ca%20href="https://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/">seems to like BBC News.


Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet blog

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/useful_bits_about_the_bits.html" rel="bookmark">Useful Bits About The Bits?

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/chris_sizemore/">Chris Sizemore | 09:50 UK time, Thursday, 19 June 2008

I've been working for some years now on methods of providing audiences with access to BBC Radio and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/programmes">TV programmes based on genre, topic, and subject. In other words, I, and many of my colleagues, have been concentrating on the "bits about the bits" part of the chain.

Recently, I managed to hack a promising little "bits about the bits" prototype together, something that attempts to address in particular Nicholas Negroponte's notion of "...bits that describe the narrative with key words..."


%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/06/wikipedia_plus_lucene_morelikethis.shtml">Read more and comment at the Radio Labs Blog.

Chris Sizemore is Head Of Navigation & Service, BBC Multiplatform Production.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/erik_linux.html" rel="bookmark">My First Linux Desktop

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/erik_huggers/"> Erik Huggers%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/erik_huggers/">Erik Huggers | 13:02 UK time, Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Over the last two decades, I have used every flavour of Windows and Mac %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system">OS, but 'til now had never used a %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux">Linux desktop.

My only encounter with Linux has been flashing my wifi access point with %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DD-WRT">dd-wrt firmware (which is great, btw) - but that is obviously not the same thing!

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/george_wright/">George Wright recently convinced me to take home a laptop with %3Ca%20href="https://fedoraproject.org/">Fedora9 installed.


Would it be possible to easily connect to wpa2-protected wifi? Will it recognize my digital camera - and if so, how easy will it be to manage my pictures? How good will the web browsing experience be given the various plugins one needs to make today's websites work? Lots of questions; time to find out for myself...

To my surprise, I found the experience pretty good. Connecting to my home network was easy and web browsing worked fine using %3Ca%20href="https://www.mozilla-europe.org/en/firefox/">Firefox. I tried %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer streaming using Flash and that worked fine too.

Getting pictures of the kids transferred was not a problem. I did have some issues with connecting to my network-attached storage, but that is probably my lack of knowledge. While I think the user experience has some way to go in order to catch up with commercial operating systems, the basic functionality is there.

The one thing I was surprised about was the performance, or lack thereof. I would have expected the operating system to squeeze everything out of the dual processor laptop. Perhaps the issue would be addressed by new updates which were available, but I could not get it to install properly.

Another more fundamental thing I wondered about is the mainstream business applications most people use every day. While good progress is being made with efforts like %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenOffice.org">OpenOffice, I think that future evolutions of %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Docs">Google Docs and the like have a better change of moving the needle.

I am glad that I got a chance to test drive Fedora and as a result have come to believe in the potential of Linux as a mainstream operating system.

As Ashley said in %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2007/11/open_standards.html">this post last year, the BBC does a lot of work with open standards already - but in the future we plan to do more.

We want to make iPlayer work on all operating systems including open source ones like Fedora and I am confident we'll make good progress on this before the end of the year.

And we also encourage communities to play with our stuff for example at events like %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.backnetwork.com/default.aspx">Mashed where several hundred developers gather in Alexandra Palace to bring the best technologies together with cool content. Mashed happens this weekend and Matthew Cashmore has %3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/">more details.

Erik Huggers is Group Controller, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bad_artists_imitate_good_artis.html" rel="bookmark">"Immature Artists Imitate..."

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/richard_titus/"> Richard Titus%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/richard_titus/">Richard Titus | 10:44 UK time, Tuesday, 17 June 2008

"...mature artists steal."

--Lionel Trilling, Esquire, Sept 1964, quoting Eliot

The fine line between your influences and outright plagiarism is getting finer indeed.

In the music world, people are mashing up music from previously made recordings, performing and "reinterpreting" other artists' work: %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grey_Album">Danger Mouse's Grey Album and artists like %3Ca%20href="https://www.nouvellesvagues.com/">Nouvelle Vague, Richard Cheese and many others have demonstrated this to phenomenal effect.

So when my team in user experience and design started seeing other groups building sites which were similar to, inspired by, or in one case a borderline copy of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/homepage/">the BBC homepage, (%3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_Side_Includes">SSIs and all), they waited to see what the Yank from the land of litigious copyright lawyers would do (that's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/richard_titus/">me, by the way).

Frankly, I found myself - as did most of the team - mildly flattered, and even challenged.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.upyourego.com/blog/index.php/2008/05/16/imitation-flatter-and-the-bbc/">bbc site clones
Composite image by %3Ca%20href="https://www.upyourego.com/blog/index.php/2008/05/16/imitation-flatter-and-the-bbc/">Ryan Morrison

The first site I saw was the %3Ca%20href="https://www.hrt.hr">Croatian site. I thought: "Wow, from a design standpoint that's quite similar to ours - there are some interesting tweaks as well." A week or so later, I saw the %3Ca%20href="https://www.rtl.hu/">RTL Hungary site. Seeing these two, so close in time, I found myself quite intrigued.

I believe inspiration can come from a variety of sources. Some of the inspiration for the BBC homepage included a diverse array of sites across the web, but I wonder what %3Ca%20href="https://www.google.com/ig">Google, %3Ca%20href="https://www.pageflakes.com">Pageflakes, %3Ca%20href="https://www.facebook.com">Facebook and %3Ca%20href="https://www.cnn.com">CNN think about %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/home/">BBC.co.uk/home.

I know what %3Ca%20href="https://www.netvibes.com/">Netvibes thinks about it: co-founder and CEO Tariq Kim and I talked about it extensively.

He felt our adoption of a similar experience/interaction model to Netvibes and Pageflakes (his arch-rival) simply helped to demonstrate the real impact of widgets, modular content delivery, rss/xml and personalisation. "A rising tide lifts all boats" was essentially his message.

I agree with him. Each iteration of a technology and/or approach creates new opportunities to innovate (or riff, if we are still using musical terms) on that idea with one of your own. In many ways, the BBC's adoption of Web 2.0 thinking, personalisation and widgets helped to break down barriers at other organisations. Audience desire for personalisation was estimated as a niche offer before the BBC demonstrated that +30% (+50% of the beta) of our unique users personalise their experience in some way. To me, this audience engagement is the real success story of the homepage.

Here are a few facts about personalisation of the new BBC homepage:

  • +30% of global unique users personalise it in some way
  • Most popular module combinations and positions:
      (1) News + Weather + Sport + TV + CBBC + Radio + iPlayer + Blogs
      (2) News + Weather+ Sport + TV + CBBC + Radio
  • Most added / opened modules:
      (1) News
      (2) Sport
      (3) Blogs
  • Most deleted / minimised modules:
      (1) CBBC
      (2) News
      (3) Sport

One of the most popular positioning changes is swapping Sport for News. Here are the default and most popular customization positions:

  • removing the blogs module and the iPlayer module
  • opening the CBBC module, and moving it into the second column
  • TV at top of column 2 (chicken and egg here - I don't know whether users moved down weather, leaving TV to go up "naturally", or vice versa)
  • Moving the weather module down to the bottom of row 2 and minimising it


Remember, these are international figures. iPlayer, Radio and TV aren't as relevant to many of those audiences - but the figures are still fascinating. News and sport seem to be very polarising elements of the BBC's offering; our children's content is likely most interesting if you are or have a child! And due to licensing restrictions, BBC iPlayer is only available/useful in the UK.

We're collecting lots of really great data from the homepage and trying to use them to inform our choices for things to improve and things that work well and, across the BBC, to assess new editorial offerings.

But back to the influences and copies. On the whole, I'm flattered that someone thought what we have done to be important enough to influence their work. It means that we've done something important, or at least opened some people's minds somewhat. Mary Meeker, a financial analyst in the US, said that she was surprised that, of all the media companies in the world, it was the BBC that innovated so clearly into the personalised audience-engaged homepage.

But my friends at news organisations apparently discuss our homepage a lot. Even TechCruch's Michael Arrington talked about it on US television. Maybe we've demonstrated demand for something many of them didn't really expect would be compelling: an opinion I suspect they are reconsidering.

I've travelled and even lived quite extensively in Eastern Europe, including Hungary, and I was blown away by the depth of knowledge and passion around internet technology there. So the fact that web developers from two different Eastern European countries - both with healthy web development and IT and design communities - picked us as a primary influence on their work to revamp media portals says to me that we've done something right.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/05/iplayer_bafta_on_tour.html">Some of their peers berated them for their work, but I say: thanks! There are times when the BBC lawyers must defend the BBC's rights for all kinds of good reasons, but my personal opinion is that these examples help to drive creativity and innovation in a way that we should embrace.

I've always felt that design, software and music have a lot in common. When musicians jam, they sit around and riff off each other. They write songs together collaboratively, in the room, each inspiring the other to take it to a new interesting place. Other times, you get an idea in your head from the session, but go home and end up personalising it, composing it into a complete tune and making it your own. We each take our inspiration from many things, so to lock up creativity and ideas is to me the biggest danger of copyright law.

Frankly, on a personal level, I've always given my ideas away, often for free or with little or no compensation. My lawyer friends make fun of this, but I feel most ideas are ephemeral. It's the hard work of iterating them into something truly useful and refining, and revamping again and again that's the art, the science and the fun.

There is something else to point out about the homepage - something that most of the sites also picked up on and then used in some way. The code.

Behind the amazing design the User Experience team developed for the homepage is some amazing, well crafted code delivered by the our CSD team (in record time, I might add - less than four months from idea to delivery!). As is always the case with good code, it is invisible to the user - technology as a means not an end.

However, the code which powers the homepage, with its SSIs and legacy Perl issues, is really some pretty amazing stuff. It just works: it's clean, fast and accessible and the user doesn't even know that it's there. At the BBC, we are currently working on code libraries (like our %3Ca%20href="https://twitter.com/smagdali/statuses/824015713">Glow library, which will be used in the forthcoming new beta homepage) and public-facing design and code pattern libraries.

This is publicly funded work and, where there is a clear benefit to the public, let's try to make it available to the public to personalise and to make their own. Perhaps we can eventually evolve this into an open source code library - we already have %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/opensource/">BBC Open Source where we release material like this. In my humble opinion, this is a great expression of our public purpose and, frankly, an interesting thing to do.

In closing, I'll share my favourite of the sites which bear uncanny similarities to our homepage. It uses quite a bit of our amazing code - it's for %3Ca%20href="https://www.littleilford.newham.sch.uk/">Little Ilford School in East London. Next generation education indeed.


Richard Titus is Acting Head of User Experience & Design for FM&T.

Editors' note: This saw is from TS Eliot's The Sacred Wood: Essays On Poetry & Criticism (1922; see below), but has been mashed up into various other forms, including the title of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex/profiles/artist/discography/?id=153">a Morrissey compilation and attributed to many well-known and impressive-sounding figures (including, as is the case for all maxims, Oscar Wilde).

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. [%3Ca%20href="https://www.bartleby.com/200/sw11.html">cited in full at Bartleby]

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_20080616.html" rel="bookmark">Interesting Stuff 2008-06-16

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 10:11 UK time, Monday, 16 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="%3Ca%20href="https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2008/06/iplayer_to_include_radio_content.html">iplayer_categories.png%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose gives a talk on virtual channels, personalisation and - worryingly - a "shoot out" at %3Ca%20href="https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2008/06/iplayer_to_include_radio_content.html">Broadcast's Digital Channels Conference:

Rose predicted that a lot of the scheduling for these genre clusters will be done by computer but said there will always be a need for human schedulers.
"The endgame is that the linear scheduler isn't quite dead yet. Long live the online scheduler," he said.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.expressandstar.com/">wolverhampton express & star%3Ca%20href="https://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/15/bbc.digitalmedia">James Robinson writes in The Observer on the BBC's plans to enhance its online local coverage and the familiar admixture of public service, market impact and the BBC Trust:

It even argues that its enhanced, online offering will drive traffic to local newspaper sites, pointing to a trial in the Midlands 18 months ago which published links to stories from other sources, including %3Ca%20href="https://www.expressandstar.com/">the Wolverhampton Express & Star, doubling the number of hits it received.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.macpredictions.com/2008/06/since-when-did-four-legged-chair-become.html">Graham Bower muses in Mac Predictions on Apple's role in the marketplace for TV delivery:

Apple's US-centric focus is in part to blame. Whilst Virgin Media are doing an excellent job in leveraging their (bizarre) exclusivity with the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer, Apple has failed to do a similar deal - despite the British-broadcast-monopolist's publicly professed %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/ip_to_tv_your_comments.html">interest in the platform.

[Editor's note: other British broadcasters are, in fact, available.]

%3Ca%20href="https://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg08998.html">On the BBC Backstage mailing list, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/james_cridland/">James Cridland answers concerns about internet-radio-compatibility, talks %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/03/coyopa_takes_shape.shtml">Today and chats %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/03/coyopa_takes_shape.shtml">Coyopa.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/2008/06/16/no-panic-for-web-drivers-over-fuel-strikes-89520-20608874/">Greig Box Turnbull writes in The Mirror about %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7453326.stm">the Have Your Say fuel map [thanks to Researcher 237269 in the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/profile?userid=237269">comments]:

People power beat the panic out of the strike.
Motorists logged on to an interactive BBC website to update each other on where to buy fuel.
And the message was clear yesterday that motorists are not panicking.


Finally, %3Ca%20href="https://open.typepad.com/open/2008/06/i-see-tags-ever.html">Antony Mayfield blogs at Open... about Brandtags, which "asks people to submit words and phrases that come into their heads when confronted with a series of logos", using the BBC as an example.


Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/full_articletext_feeds_for_bbc.html" rel="bookmark">Full Feeds For BBC Blogs

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jem_stone/"> Jem Stone%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jem_stone/">Jem Stone | 15:15 UK time, Friday, 13 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jemstone/2576023856/" title="Full Article feeds on BBC Blogs by jem, on Flickr">mardell_rss.gif

Small steps. Small steps.

Simon Dickson made %3Ca%20href="https://puffbox.com/2008/04/18/bbc-blogs-rss-full-text-feeds/">this plea back in April when we upgraded the blog platform. Nick Reynolds then pointed me to Tony Kennick's blog post yesterday. An %3Ca%20href="https://blog.pint.org.uk/2008/06/on-open-letter-to-bbc-web-team.html">open letter no less, asking us very kindly to do the same.

I find full content feeds much more useful especially when catching up with feeds on other devices on the move. Mobile browsing has vastly improved and where I am required to click through in most cases I can do so to read the whole content, but I would rather remain within my feed aggregating application.

Well, quite. So we did. From this afternoon, all of the BBC's blog %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_feed">feeds are now full-fat, as you can see above from the lovely Google Reader %3Ca%20href="https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2310/2576023856_0042088969.jpg">screengrab of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/what_does_irelands_no_mean.html">Mark Mardell's blog post from this afternoon on the Irish Lisbon Treaty vote.

Sorry that it's taken so long.

Jem Stone is the Portfolio Exec, Social Media for Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_130608.html" rel="bookmark">Interesting Stuff 2008-06-13

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 12:18 UK time, Friday, 13 June 2008

If you've ever fancied yourself as the next creator of a Dalek - this is the place to start.

...%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/matthew_cashmore/">Matthew Cashmore %3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2008/06/monster_mashed.html">invites you to enter the "Monster %3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2008/06/mashed_more_det.html">Mashed" competition.

Christopher Trace of Blue Peter with a DIY Dalek, 1964

...one of the ironies about BBC iPlayer is that - unlike the Tardis - it's really bigger on the outside than the inside.

...says Roly Keating (Controller, BBC TWO) in a speech (%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/speeches/stories/keating_tardis.shtml">Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) given at Broadcast Digital Channels Conference 2008 yesterday. Also blogged (%3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/06/why_the_new_media_world_looks.html">Why The New Media World Looks Like A Doctor Who Plot, Says The BBC) by Jemima Kiss at the Guardian. [Enough Doctor Who already! - Ed]

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/2008/local_video.html">bbclocal.jpgThe %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/">BBC Trust has announced it will begin its Public Value Test of the proposal to add video services to the 60 %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/local/">Where I Live websites on June 24, with a final decision due at the end of February next year. %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/2008/local_video.html">Press release here.

TechCrunch and the BBC are holding an event to rationally debate and discuss the issues around the BBC's assets and technology...

%3Ca%20href="https://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/06/12/the-techcrunch-bbc-debate/">...book your place here.

Personally, I'm convinced that making the BBC's great audio and video content only available at bbc.co.uk, rather than on The Telegraph or YouTube, will have a much bigger impact in ensuring that the BBC does become that "dominant gateway" the Trust claims to be seeking to avoid.

...Martin Belam %3Ca%20href="https://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2008/06/bbc_trust_3.php">in full cry at currybetdotnet.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_topics_how_it_works.html" rel="bookmark">BBC Topics: How It Works

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/stephen_betts/">Stephen Betts | 12:48 UK time, Thursday, 12 June 2008

Last week, Matt McDonnell %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_topics_in_beta.html">wrote about the new BBC %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/">Topic Pages Beta. I'd now like explain how some of the many components that build those pages all work together.

The point of the Topic Pages is that they bring together content from all around %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/">bbc.co.uk. Obviously, many different systems produce all that content, and in general they don't tend to share content very well. Our challenge was to build a platform that could make sense of the different interfaces to those systems to make sharing that content easier.

The first thing to note is that the Topic Pages themselves are %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_Web_page">dynamic, unlike the vast majority of pages on bbc.co.uk. Essentially, this means that the HTML of the page isn't stored as a physical file on a hard-disk, but instead is built up dynamically when the page is requested.

This is done by the "Page Assembly Layer" or "PAL", a brand new component written in the %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PHP_programming_language">PHP programming language. In the future, the intention is that most pages on bbc.co.uk will be produced dynamically using the PHP layer, and the Topic Pages system has blazed a trail, being the first released on this new platform.

The PAL itself does a fairly simple job, in principle. First, it receives a request for a Topic Page; it then looks up which modules (ie, the different blocks of content on the page, such as BBC News, Programmes and Weather) it needs to build that page; it grabs all those different modules, which originate on various different systems and finally it assembles them before returning the page to the user.

The really important part here is that the PAL is grabbing all the useful content dynamically, and not storing any content itself (apart from a bit of %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_cache">caching, to help smooth out any spikes in load). This means that the PAL is a really generic system that can be used for building other sorts of pages as well.


The PAL actually requests the various content modules from another component, which itself routes these requests on to the underlying systems. This Module Routing system is implemented in %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_Cocoon">Apache Cocoon, an %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4684566">open source framework, released by the %3Ca%20href="https://www.apache.org/">Apache Software Foundation. This way, the PAL can access content through a simple, uniform interface (which is based on %3Ca%20href="https://www.xfront.com/REST-Web-Services.html">REST principles, for those who are into such things), rather than having to deal directly with many complex interfaces to multiple systems.

This gives us two big benefits. First, if we want to change how a particular module is implemented, we can just reconfigure the Module Routing, and don't have to alter the PAL (which we don't want to tinker with too much, as it is busy serving pages); second, it makes it easier for any other system, or other page on bbc.co.uk, to reuse the modules. This model also makes it easier to add new content modules to the PAL, as most of the logic about how to access a new module can be handled in the Module Routing layer.

As Matt %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_topics_in_beta.html">said, "Topics are automatically updated web pages, each one covering a different person, country or subject." We wanted to present content from across the various departments within the BBC. The Search Engines are the one place that all that content from bbc.co.uk (well, most of that content) is brought together (nearly 2 million documents from www.bbc.co.uk and the %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/">Newsand %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/sport">Sport sites). So it makes a lot of sense to create many of the modules from the Search indexes (the News module, and the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/">Programmes module, for example, are both created like this). This is done using elaborate search queries, which are a bit fancier than the one- or two-keyword queries which the Search Engines normally receive - the query for the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/fashion">Fashion topic, for example, contains 364 terms! These queries are built using a variety of techniques by the Search Editorial Team.

We also use content from other sources than the Search indexes - for example, the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/">Weather modules, and the information boxes about %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm">countries, which come from the BBC News website. In order to make it as easy as possible to share and reuse these content modules, we are attempting to create some standards for the formats in which the data is passed around (rather than just allowing every system to specify its own format).

Having looked around a bit, we decided to base our data structure on the %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom_%28standard%29">Atom format, which was originally created to describe feeds from Blogs. Atom is a rich %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML">XML format, and one of its most attractive features is that you can add your own data elements. This means we can have a standard container for our data, but also include extra elements where appropriate (such as in the weather modules, to denote temperatures, for example).

This approach is similar to Google's %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GData">GDATA, which is also based on ATOM. We have a prototype of this XML format - called BBC Module XML - in use in the Topics pages, and in the next few months we will be looking at refining and improving it, and hopefully making it useful for other systems across bbc.co.uk. We use%3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XSL_Transformations"> XSLT to transform from the XML to the nice %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XHTML">XHTML modules which are placed on the page.

The only parts that I haven't touched upon so far are the admin systems for creating and maintaining the pages and also the modules that go on them. At the moment, these admin systems aren't as joined up as they should be (and are implemented in different programming languages in some cases). This is a headache for the editorial team that maintain the Topic Pages. Our next priority is figuring out how we can bring those systems closer together, and generally improve the workflow for the editorial staff, so that they can easily add more Topic Pages.

Once we've made their lives a little easier, we will look at more feature enhancements. These include providing %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/rss/3223484.stm">RSS feeds of the Topic Pages so that people can more easily stay up to date with their favourite topics. Additionally, we want to improve our systems for sharing metadata, so that it will be easier to automatically link to relevant Topic Pages from other pages on bbc.co.uk. And we will also add more types of content modules, to increase the range of content on the Topic Pages.

As you hopefully can see, the Topic Page project was pretty complex, and involved creating many new systems. Wherever possible, we have developed those systems to be generic and extensible, to provide not just Topic Pages, but also a platform for sharing and reusing content, and building other products in the future. This has all been possible thanks to some fantastic, far-sighted and occasionally frenetic work from the BBC Search Team and colleagues in FM&T Journalism and FM&T Internet - thanks to all of them.

N.B. More information on /topics can be found %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/help/faq.shtml">here.

Stephen Betts is Search Technical Team Leader, BBC Future Media & Technology

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 10:52 UK time, Wednesday, 11 June 2008

But %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">iPlayer is only the beginning of the story. Because when that iPlayer moment is over, the programme disappears and we are still having to apologise to the audience. And yet those programmes do still exist and increasingly may be available elsewhere on the web...
That fact formed part of the thinking behind this - a permanent page for every episode of every programme the BBC has ever broadcast.

From %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/speeches/stories/bennett_banff2008.shtml">a speech by Jana Bennett (Director BBC Vision) at the %3Ca%20href="https://www.banff2008.com/">Banff Conference in Canada. [NB: this is part of the /programmes work blogged about %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2007/11/a_page_for_every_programme_1.html">here, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/03/programmes_a_bite_size_design_1.html">here and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/05/helping_machines_play_with_pro.shtml">here.]

%3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/default.stm">today programme

...note the slightly Communist-era feel of the red and black Today page has been replaced by a bright and breezy white and blue front.

says The Guardian's Jemima Kiss in %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/06/today_has_a_new_website_at_las.html">Today Has A New Website, At Last.

...it's easy to forget where the BBC's on-demand programme offer all began; with the BBC Radio Player, which is 6 years old today (or rather, it would be, if it hadn't already been rebadged iPlayer).

The BBC's Dan Taylor %3Ca%20href="https://www.fabricoffolly.com/2008/06/bbc-radio-player-happy-birthday-rip.html">gets nostalgic at Fabric of Folly.

"Radio connected to social module": unpacking a box with %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/05/olinda_a_new_radio.shtml">Olinda in at Flickr.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 10:01 UK time, Tuesday, 10 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/digital_curriculum.shtml">bbc jam"Please don't tell me that the interests of plurality were served by [closing BBC Jam]" laments %3Ca%20href="https://www.wmin.ac.uk/page-10324">Prof Steven Barnett of the University of Westminster in %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/06/the_bbccouk_review_a_response.html">a pda piece looking at responses to the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbccouk_service_licence_reacti.html">Trust's report on bbc.co.uk:

it is surely about time the corporation's competitors were at least big enough to acknowledge the huge public affection and esteem in which all it services are held.

%3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3676692.stm">newstracker175.pngIn Part Two of his look at the Trust's report [%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_060608.html">see below], %3Ca%20href="https://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2008/06/bbc_trust_2.php">Martin Belam looks at external linking including %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3676692.stm">Newstracker, and the Trust's note that "[w]e are disappointed to see that bbc.co.uk's linking is not leading to more click-throughs." Martin reflects:

The Trust don't appear to have benchmarked, for example, how many click-throughs content portals like Yahoo! or MSN send downstream. Nor have they measured how much traffic other British media sites send on. There doesn't appear to be any context to saying that this figure is 'disappointing'.

%3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ifs/hi/newsid_3700000/newsid_3701800/3701840.stm">raymond snoddyStill with the Trust review(s), %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/">Newswatch presenter and independent media commentator %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ifs/hi/newsid_3700000/newsid_3701800/3701840.stm">Raymond Snoddy asks "[s]o is the BBC Trust just one big pussycat?" in %3Ca%20href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/comment/raymond-snoddy-on-broadcasting-842672.html">The Independent:

As for bbc.co.uk - well that is an excellent service that makes a strong contribution to delivering the BBC's public purpose - as long as they strengthen the financial controls to stop cost overruns.

%3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk" style="border: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px">Mashed08: London, June 21/2 2008%3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2008/06/mashed_more_det.html">The Backstage Blog has more on Mashed [%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_20080602.html">see below]:

As you would imagine, a mere two weeks before Mashed everything is getting a little crazy around here!
What I can say so far is that the speakers on the Saturday morning are looking fantastic -
* Andy Smith - iPlayer
* Nick Gallon - how to hack the BBC's TV services
* Audio & Music Interactive - /programmes
* Robotics with Microsoft

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/introducing/">jersey introducingBBC Jersey's %3Ca%20href="https://www.upyourego.com/blog/index.php/2008/06/09/tune-in-to-me/">Ryan Morrison has launched a %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/">Jersey version of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/introducing/">BBC Introducing called, naturally, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/introducing/">BBC Jersey Introducing to cover and support the Jersey music scene, which you can expect to encounter on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/bbc_in_jersey/">radio, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/noscript.shtml?/radio/aod/jersey_aod.shtml?jersey/introducing_jersey">BBC iPlayer, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/introducing/">blogs, %3Ca%20href="https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=19527868941">Facebook, etc, etc:

If you've got any ideas for ways I can improve the show, add more social media elements etc - let me know.
But so far the highlight for me has been seeing my name in the radio times - even if it's only on the very back pages.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.radiotimes.com/content/">gill hudsonSpeaking of the Radio Times, its editor %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/bbcworldwide/worldwidestories/pressreleases/2002/06_june/gill_hudson.shtml">Gill Hudson cries %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/organgrinder/2008/06/sshh_tread_quietly_now_dont.html">Save Our TV Reviewers! in organgrinder, reckoning that more access to more AV content makes it "short sighted for newspapers to be ditching TV reviews":

Last week alone, there were more than five million downloads on iPlayer; around 80 million since Christmas. That's not a slow-drip change in consumer behaviour; it's the Niagara Falls that happens when a latent consumer need is finally addressed. Of all the times to reduce the guidance on what, from all that choice, is worth watching, this would not seem to be it.

%3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/default.stm">today programmeFinally, Adam Sherwin has %3Ca%20href="https://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4099750.ece">a diary piece in The Times mocking the relaunch of the Today programme's website:

The highlight was to be a video review of each day's programme by Ed Stourton, the housewives' favourite.
When Today addicts logged on they saw an unhappy-looking Stourton positioned in front of a potted plant.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/pic_of_the_day_p2p_next.html" rel="bookmark">Pic Of The Day: P2P Next

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 17:51 UK time, Monday, 9 June 2008

You might remember %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/george_wright/">George Wright %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/02/p2p_next.html">posted here in February about %3Ca%20href="https://www.p2p-next.org/">P2P Next,

a Europe-wide consortium of 21 partners spanning broadcasters, technical universities, content and metadata specialists and hardware vendors. We are building a new, cross-platform, Free/Open Source software-based, legal, peer-to-peer system.

There's been some interesting reaction around various blogs [%3Ca%20href="https://technorati.com/search/p2p+next+bbc?sourceid=opensearch">Technorati search | Google search] and this week, the splendid Council Chamber in BBC %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/keyfacts/stories/broadcasting_house.shtml">Broadcasting House [%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/tours/bh.shtml">click here for tours] sees the six-monthly General Assembly of P2P Next, where partners discuss the future of the project, including this work in progress from one of the key participants, Pioneer.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/2565803950/">p2p next

George will be returning to post about P2P Next after the end of the Assembly.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 13:22 UK time, Monday, 9 June 2008

Today, at FM&T's "Open Lunch", in a room which distressingly no longer appears to be %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/pic_of_the_day_ada_lovelace.html">called Ada Lovelace, we had our first chance to hear, touch and play with the protoypes of the social radio Olinda, brought in by proud parents %3Ca%20href="https://schulzeandwebb.com/">Jack Schulze and Matt Webb.


%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/tristan_ferne/">Tristan Ferne, who kicked off proceedings, has %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/05/olinda_a_new_radio.shtml">thoroughly blogged on the subject of Olinda at Radio Labs; there's a longer account in this press pack [85 Mb PDF!], and a precis in the invitation to this Open Lunch:

* Olinda shows you when your friends are listening so you can share the experience
* Olinda features customisable hardware, making radios expandable
* Olinda aims to stimulate innovation in the radio industry

There are more images from the presentation in %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/tags/olinda/">our Flickr account.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 09:59 UK time, Monday, 9 June 2008

The BBC's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/pete_clifton/">Pete Clifton discusses %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3676692.stm">Newstracker in an article at paidContent called %3Ca%20href="https://www.paidcontent.co.uk/entry/419-bbc-makes-concession-to-unfair-advantage-gripes-with-new-links-push/">BBC Makes Concessions To "Unfair Advantage" Gripes With New Links Push:

Sometimes, the journalists are in a hurry and just don't do it. But we have to be really serious about this going forward, we have to be willing to put this out to the local media to show we're not monopolising coverage.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/05/bbccouk_service_licence_initia.html">martin_belam_trustnav.pngSometime BBC Senior Development Producer %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/martin_belam/">Martin Belam has %3Ca%20href="https://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2008/06/bbc_trust_1.php">started a series of posts about the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/05/bbccouk_service_licence_initia.html">BBC Trust review with a look at search, illustrated with Lego users of bbc.co.uk:

Now, of course, there are lies, damned lies, statistics and then web metrics, but I'm unclear that you can argue how 'good' or 'useful' a site search is from these figures.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/help/faq.shtml">topics_header.pngThe /topics beta as %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_topics_in_beta.html">introduced by Matthew McDonnell last week has been getting reaction on blogs [%3Ca%20href="https://www.technorati.com/search/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Ftopics%2F">Technorati search | %3Ca%20href="https://blogsearch.google.co.uk/blogsearch?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Ftopics">Google Blogs Search], including %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/06/the_bbcs_wikipedia_in_the_maki.html">Jemima Kiss at pda and %3Ca%20href="https://www.craigmcginty.com/news/2008/06/bbc-and-its-top.html">this from Craig McGinty:

One of the criticisms levelled at the BBC website is that it doesn't return enough to the wider internet, be that by just linking out more to other sites.
Well its new BBC Topics offering could be the perfect vehicle for doing just that.

Janko Roettgers at NewTeeVee writes about %3Ca%20href="https://newteevee.com/2008/06/07/5-things-the-bbc-can-teach-us-about-social-networks/">5 Things The BBC Can Teach Us About Social Networks, looking at the Beeb's recent %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/advice/bbcweb/index.shtml">editorial guidelines:

It's part practical how-to for BBC producers, part Star Trek-like Prime Directive, complete with warnings to "be sensitive to the expectations of existing users of the specific site."

Media Guardian reports that %3Ca%20href="https://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/05/bbc.digitalmedia">BBC Drops Subscription Plan For International News Website.

There's a %3Ca%20href="https://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg08888.html">discussion on the BBC Backstage mailing list on "proxy support in BBC iPlayer download client".

bednboard %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/MP11643252">uses the bbc.co.uk message boards to propose closing some bbc.co.uk message boards.

Paul Canning complains that "[no-one] seems to be picking up my point" about the BBC Trust's findings on embedding [some mildly NSFW language]:

One thing they couldn't get more wrong is that they think the Beeb shouldn't get embedding happening, as is planned.

And now someone has. [See also %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbccouk_service_licence_reacti.html">this comment; more embedding news as it comes.]

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/geoffrey_goodwin/">Geoffrey Goodwin | 18:16 UK time, Friday, 6 June 2008

Thanks for your %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/07/sound_index_data.html">comments on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/sound_index_data.html">Beth's previous post about the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex/">Sound Index.

The Sound Index is not meant to be a definitive chart (like a %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/chart/top40.shtml">sales chart). Rather, it's a gauge of who and what is currently driving conversation and interaction about music online. It's a great tool for music discovery, and to find out %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex/soundindex/?type=artist">who's currently hot in the music world of teenagers. However, we have taken steps to ensure that our data collection is as accurate as possible, and have implemented an %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algorithm">algorithm to help us create the most editorially relevant and robust Index.


The Sound Index is currently in a four month %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_release_life_cycle">beta stage, so that (among other things) the technical, editorial and cost implications of various algorithm options can be assessed.

After viewing an Index of based on the raw data we felt an algorithm was needed to allow all the sources to contribute to the Index, and for all forms on activity on the internet - plays, comments and downloads - to affect the rankings. Without an algorithm the large volumes of the more dominant forms of interaction - mainly plays and downloads - drowned out the smaller numbers of comments, which we felt were important to reflect in the Index.

Therefore, my team has developed the following algorithm, which I feel gives an editorially relevant and justified chart, without any bespoke manipulation or input, meaning that the Sound Index can be viewed as an accurate gauge of online buzz.

For each type of interaction (play, comment, download) all the data for each artist for each individual site has been added. Then each artist is given a score depending on how popular they are on each site. This score is directly related to how many artists are on that site. For example, if there were 200 artists from %3Ca%20href="https://www.myspace.com/">MySpace, the Number One artist (with the most counts) would have a score of 200, whereas if they had the least, they would have a score of 1.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex/">sound_index_fresh.pngWe didn't want sites with massive amounts of only one type of data totally dominate the Sound Index. So each type of data - play, download, comment - is limited to make up a set proportion of each artist's popularity. This is determined by how many different sources there are for each type of data. So, if there were ten sources in total made up of five play counts, three download and two comments, we would multiply the ranks from each source in the following way: 5/10 for counts, 3/10 for downloads and 2/10 for comments.

These figures from each type of activity from each site for each artist multiplied by this fixed proportion are then added together, to give a total buzz score, which is used to create the Sound Index. The same method is applied separately for individual tracks. We have also put in processes with our data collection methods to reduce the impact of gaming. Our partner %3Ca%20href="https://www.almaden.ibm.com/cs/projects/iis/sound/">IBM has implemented spam filtering, porn filtering, multiple post detection and %3Ca%20href="https://musicbrainz.org/">MusicBrainz verification to help the data be as clean as possible.

The Sound Index is a project based on trialing new technology. I think that in its current form it's been successful in achieving an exciting way of discovering which bands and artists are creating the most buzz. We are not using it to define any charts or create any definitive lists. Anything editorial around the Sound Index should not use it as an absolute measure: it's a gauge of what is hot. It's a great example of innovation and collaboration with major music sites. We're still learning about what the Sound Index can do.

How would you like the Sound Index to develop? Please do leave a comment.

Geoffrey Goodwin is Head of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/switch/">BBC Switch.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 10:21 UK time, Thursday, 5 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://www.techradar.com/news/internet/bbc1-is-internet-bound-382709">"BBC1 is internet bound" from Tech Radar.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.digitalspy.co.uk/broadcasting/a97412/ip-interactive-iptv-priorities-for-bbc.html?rss">"IP interactive, IPTV priorities for BBC" from Digital Spy.

Both stories based on the BBC's new %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/info/statements2008/">statements of programme policy. (The Future Media" section starts on page 51 of the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/info/statements2008/pdf/BBC_SoPPs_200809.pdf">PDF.)

"Another day, Another BBC beta": the BBC's Dan Taylor %3Ca%20href="https://www.fabricoffolly.com/2008/06/bbc-topics-genre-index-betas.html">blogs about %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_topics_in_beta.html">/topics and some new genre indexes on BBC %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/index_beta.shtml">gardening and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/">arts and culture.

Matt Precey of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/lookeast/index.shtml">BBC Look East is asking for tips on using html email %3Ca%20href="https://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg08859.html">on the BBC Backstage mailing list.

Jeff Jarvis blogs about the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/04/hidden_costs_of_watching_tv_on.html">BBC iPlayer and broadband at the end of %3Ca%20href="https://www.buzzmachine.com/2008/06/03/time-warner-cable-chokes-customers/">this blog post ("Time Warner Cable chokes customers").

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_topics_in_beta.html" rel="bookmark">BBC Topics In Beta

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/matthew_mcdonnell/">Matthew McDonnell | 14:02 UK time, Wednesday, 4 June 2008

I am delighted to announce the launch of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/">BBC Topic Pages.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/help/faq.shtml">topics_header.pngTopics are automatically updated web pages, each one covering a different person, country or subject.

This is a beta release so forgive us a few rough edges. They will be smoothed out over the course of the trial.

We wanted to make it as easy as possible to create and maintain pages for large %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/russia">countries as it is for %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/haiti">small ones, whether they are currently %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/china">the location of big news stories or %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/peru">not. Or to build pages for a %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/david_cameron">politicians, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/prince_william">famous people and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/charles_dickens">historical figures that alert users to relevant programmes and news stories they might otherwise miss. Or to showcase the best and latest things the BBC has produced about topical issues, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/world_war_2">historical events, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/nato">big organisations and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/books">popular hobbies. And we wanted to produce a page all about%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/dogs">dogs.

So /topics uses a variety of search techniques to create feeds of the latest BBC content from news articles, programmes available to watch on%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer"> iPlayer, %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/">weather forecasts, news videos, %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/">country profiles and information from the TV and radio schedules. BBC editors then add in hand-picked articles and features from around the BBC and other websites.

Stephen Betts of our technical team will post in the next few days giving more detail on how the feeds are generated and the pages assembled as well as giving an insight into the engineering approaches.

I will of course reply to your comments on a later post, but there are a couple of questions that I can answer up-front.

Why are we doing this?

While it is quite easy to find all the news about, say, %3Ca%20href="https://search.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/search/results.pl?tab=ns&q=anti+social+behaviour&scope=all&uri=%2F">anti-social behaviour or all on-demand programmes about India, it has always been more of a challenge to find everything the BBC has recently produced about a topic. Now we can make pages that organise the full range of BBC content around selected subjects like %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/antisocial_behaviour">this and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/india">this.

And because the overhead involved in maintaining these pages is so low, we can cover many more subjects than we could using traditionally edited pages which had to be manually updated by a human being. As the feeds used in /topics are automatic, we can be confident that all the pages are bang up-to-date.

Finally, these pages will exist forever regardless of whether there is new content being produced about the subject (even if the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/nigella_lawson">odd page may look a little bare now and again). So, for the first time, it's possible to link to one permanent page for the topics that we cover on the BBC. At the moment we have a selection, and the beta trial will help us determine the scope of what we might do in the future.

How do we choose which topics to cover?

We take three things into account. Firstly, what people are looking for (we do this by analysing the BBC search logs). Then, what we have content about (we aren't aiming to create an encyclopaedia of all human knowledge; rather to better organise and showcase our content) and lastly, the BBC's editorial priorities.

For the moment a few countries, people and subjects have been chosen to get things off the ground and to test the technology. The list will grow over the coming months.

If it's all automatic, what about editorial priorities and tone?

No new content is produced for our topic pages, so we know that everything we link to meets editorial guidelines. Topic page editors can also add and remove content if necessary.

BBC journalists and content producers use their judgement to assess their importance of their stories and content every time they write a story or publish some content. We're working on systems that will capture that wisdom, infer the relative editorial importance of a piece of content (for instance by checking whether it appeared on the News or iPlayer homepages) and then use this information to influence the ordering of content on the pages.

Is it just going to be %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/">News and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer">iPlayer content on these pages?

Far from it. We are developing a %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/">BBC blogs feed and planning %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/sport">Sport and other feeds. In addition, we are working on sourcing widgets of content from other areas of the BBC including things like the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/">recipe database.

We are trying out some of these ideas on the topics page for %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/topics/china">China. Pete Clifton has blogged in more detail about China %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2008/06/find_play_and_share.html">on the BBC News Editors Blog.

What about related content from other websites?

We want to include high quality content from outside the BBC to enhance our pages. We'll be working on providing feeds of news and blogs from sources other than the BBC.

Can I get the feeds and build them into my own website or personal feeds?

Yes, feeds will be available soon.

This is just the first stage of the project and new features are planned over the course of the next couple of months. We will keep you posted as the service evolves.

Finally for enduring the long days and short tempers that are an inevitable part of product development, I would like to thank all of the talented engineers, editors, designers and project staff who have worked so hard to get us to this stage.

Have a play around with /topics and leave me a comment.

Matthew McDonnell is Portfolio Executive, Search and Navigation, Internet Group, BBC Future Media and Technology.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 17:19 UK time, Tuesday, 3 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/06/02/while-the-bbc-fiddles-britains-innovation-burns/">Animated debate at TechCrunch UK around Mike Butcher's call for "turning the BBC into a platform that UK startup technology companies can work on and with":

the best way the BBC can now allay any fears about its market dominance is by building a platform for innovation. Not a policy - a real platform. With APIs even.
That way we'll get our money/value back - and the BBC can start to give something back, not just TV and radio programmes, but a real platform for UK startups to become world beaters.


%3Ca%20href="https://www.mysociety.org/">MySociety is %3Ca%20href="https://www.mysociety.org/2008/06/01/video-recordings-of-the-house-of-commons-on-theyworkforyoucom/">asking for your help in matching up Hansard's transcripts of House of Commons debates with video footage from %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/">BBC Parliament:

It's really easy to help out. We've built a %3Ca%20href="https://www.theyworkforyou.com/video/">really simple, rather addictive system that lets anyone with a few spare minutes match up a randomly-selected speech from Hansard against the correct snippet of video. You just listen out for a certain speech, and when you hear it you hit the big red 'now' button. Your clip will then immediately go live on TheyWorkForYou next to the relevent speech, improving the site for everyone. Yay!

%3Ca%20href="https://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2007/07/bbc_iplayer_launch_the_first_14_days.php">iplayer_spoof_wiiplayer100.pngIn a feature at Next Generation titled %3Ca%20href="https://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10505&Itemid=2">Why media companies are eyeing that powerful box connected to both your TV and the internet, FM&T Group Controller %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/erik_huggers/">Erik Huggers talks about the many ways of delivering BBC content to licence fee payers' homes, including the very unofficial %3Ca%20href="https://ps3iplayer.com/">ps3iplayer.com that gave "access to the Wii iPlayer by identifying PS3s as Wiis":

'I was flattered,' laughs Huggers, explaining that the iPlayer team is still trying to track down its creator and offer him a job. 'It's not the perfect situation, but this has encouraged us to reach out to Sony and arrange a more formal version on PS3 as soon as possible,' he continues. 'In the meantime it shows us that there's a great hunger and need for people to have iPlayer in the living room.'

On this subject of unofficial iPlayer resources, we've also been taking a keen interest in the %3Ca%20href="https://defaced.co.uk/blog/index.php/2008/05/28/wiiplayer-the-better-way-to-view-the-bbc-iplayer/">WiiPlayer, as %3Ca%20href="https://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg08787.html">discussed on the Backstage mailing list, and in the lo-res %3Ca%20href="https://iplayerlist.mibly.com/">iPlayerlist ("making the unmissable, browsable").


There's also more on BBC iPlayer in yesterday's Media Guardian. The %3Ca%20href="https://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/02/bbc.itv">piece by Gareth McLean begins:

In the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out that other catch-up services are available - the BBC's iPlayer vies for the attention of tardy viewers with %3Ca%20href="https://www.channel4.com/4od/index.html">4oD, %3Ca%20href="https://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/dtv/ondemand/">Virgin on Demand and (try not to snigger) %3Ca%20href="https://www.itv.com/">itv.com - but it is by some distance the most successful.

%3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7416471.stm">rorys_timed_download.pngAre you getting the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/digital_divide/">broadband service that you pay for? BBC News asks you to %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7416471.stm">test your connection speed, plot it on a map and compare with others'. It's part of an ongoing trial combining user-generated content with maps, and is similar to the Fraudband Britain? project from last December by the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ipm/2007/10/whats_ipm_1.shtml">iPM team - which is lately working on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ipm/2008/04/mapping_the_credit_crunch.shtml">Mapping The Credit Crunch.

At the BBC's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/">dot.life technology blog, Darren Waters reports on problems encountered by BT broadband customers when using the streaming version of BBC iPlayer:

A number of online forums, including BT's %3Ca%20href="https://www.beta.bt.com/bta/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=3422&start=15&tstart=0">own, feature %3Ca%20href="https://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7075879">complaints from users that the HomeHub router re-boots when the iPlayer is streaming video.
I can wholeheartedly sympathise because I have had this issue for more than a month.

And %3Ca%20href="https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2008/05/bbc_project_will_let_viewers_direct_sport.html;jsessionid=52DA1E97B9D4DDC48B0325513B241869">Broadcast has a piece on My-e-Director 2012, described as a BBC-backed EU-funded project that will allow viewers to "direct" live broadcast events around the 2012 London Olympics:

Graham Thomas, project manager at the BBC's Production Magic research department, said: 'My-e-Director 2012 uses technologies such as facial recognition, radio-frequency identification (RFID), tracking of athletes by shirt number and a whole range of other data to automatically select video feeds based on viewer preference. The idea is to combine a host of information and do intelligent things with it.'

UKTV's Chief Executive Tony Iffland is interviewed in two video posts at Foxtel's HD Blog [%3Ca%20href="https://hd.foxtel.com.au/blog/2008/05/introduction-to-bbc-hd.html">Part 1 | %3Ca%20href="https://hd.foxtel.com.au/blog/2008/05/bbc-hd-reality-like-youve-neve.html">Part 2] on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/hdtv/">BBC HD's programming.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.iaplay.com/2008/06/03/squeezing-more-from-the-fans/">Karen Loasby explains why BBC information architects "have to think about the whole rope".

Finally, %3Ca%20href="https://atmospheresouthafrica.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/16-million-people-download-podcasts-from-the-bbc/">Dan at Atmosblog writes:

I suspected something was up when my mum started downloading podcasts to listen to while she cooks the Sunday roast rather than just turning on Radio 4.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/beth_garrod/">Beth Garrod | 10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 3 June 2008

I'm producer of the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex/">Sound Index, and it's great to see it being so well received by people %3Ca%20href="https://blogsearch.google.co.uk/blogsearch?hl=en&q=bbc+sound+index&btnG=Search+Blogs">on blogs, on the %3Ca%20href="https://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg08758.html">BBC Backstage mailing list and in %3Ca%20href="https://music.guardian.co.uk/pop/story/0,,2279794,00.html">the Observer.


Obviously, I'm biased - but I genuinely believe that it's an exciting and innovative product.

However, in response to %3Ca%20href="https://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/05/20/bbcs-sound-index-is-good-but-we-wont-get-the-data/">Mike Butcher's criticisms about not opening up the data, this is purely because it's currently a public service beta and, as it was intended as a proof of concept, has an end date of mid July.

Only if a longer-term future is secured for the Sound Index would we fully open up the RSS or other data. We don't want development to take place around data which could potentially come down and we would also need to shift to more a robust, longer-term server model to support this.

However, we have recently launched a widget of a top ten, both of the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex/soundindex/">generic Index, and the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex/myindex/">customisable My Index, which does allow elements to be shared and embedded.

The Sound Index trial has been co-funded by both BBC Public Service and %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbcworldwide.com/">BBC Worldwide, as both were interested in investigating the %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_search">semantic search and processing listing model. All running costs have been split between both %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM">IBM, whose %3Ca%20href="https://www.almaden.ibm.com/cs/projects/iis/sound/">Semantic Super Computing is used to crawl and analyse our partners' sites, and %3Ca%20href="https://www.novarising.com/">NovaRising who render the data and produce the front-end. The costs have included ongoing development as well as maintenance and hosting.

It is currently owned by %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/switch/">BBC Switch, the new BBC offer for teens, due to the way in which teens consume and discuss music online and generate buzz about tracks and artists. There will be more functionality within the site added in the next couple of weeks, allowing more interaction and adding more value to the Index. However, we are keenly monitoring all feedback as the Sound Index trial is just as much about learning as it is about innovating - so please do leave a comment.

Beth Garrod is Producer, BBC Switch.

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%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 12:10 UK time, Monday, 2 June 2008

So while the BBC's words are all about "protecting'' the market, its actions are all about "owning'' the market.

Edward Roussel of the Telegraph in the Guardian's %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/05/budgetbusting_bbccouk_threaten.html">PDA blog (and a good discussion in %3Ca%20href="https://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2008/05/budgetbusting_bbccouk_threaten.html">comments).

%3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7428104.stm">"BBC Trust review: Your questions" (answered by BBC trustee Patricia Hodgson), from BBC News.

"Report reveals bbc.co.uk is £36m over annual budget": %3Ca%20href="https://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/02/bbc.digitalmedia">more context from the Guardian.

Never mind whether the BBC will produce 'ultra-local' news hubs, it is Google's infinite budget, spotless brand, and seemingly completely free hand in the UK market that poses a bigger commercial threat to all of the UK's web industry

%3Ca%20href="https://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2008/06/bbc_new_media_budget.php">says Martin Belam at Currybet.net.

David at Webometric Thoughts %3Ca%20href="https://blog.webometrics.org.uk/2008/05/bbccouk-reviewed.html">says the Trust's conclusion that "bbc.co.uk is an excellent service that is highly valued by users... is definitely the most obvious finding ever" and %3Ca%20href="https://blog.webometrics.org.uk/2008/05/bbccouk-reviewed.html">shares some stats for traffic he's had from bbc.co.uk.

Alfred Hermida at reportr.net %3Ca%20href="https://reportr.net/2008/05/29/how-bbc-blogs-are-engaging-with-audiences/">picks out the section of the review on blogs.


"Good news for websites - BBC told to link out more!": Blogstorm %3Ca%20href="https://www.blogstorm.co.uk/good-news-for-websites-bbc-told-to-link-out-more/">sees a silver lining.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/interesting_stuff_20080602.html" rel="bookmark">Interesting Stuff 2008-06-02

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Post categories: %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/round_up/" rel="tag" title="">round up

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alan_connor/">Alan Connor | 11:39 UK time, Monday, 2 June 2008

%3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk" style="border: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px">Mashed08: London, June 21/2 2008″ width=%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/matthew_cashmore/">Matt Cashmore of %3Ca%20href="https://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/">BBC Backstage and %3Ca%20href="https://open.bbc.co.uk/labs/">Innovation Labs shows us the %3Ca%20href="https://www.thelondonbiker.com/blog/?p=171">planning wall for %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.eventbrite.com/">Mashed08, prepares the %3Ca%20href="https://mashed08.backnetwork.com/">backnetwork and launches the %3Ca%20href="https://www.thelondonbiker.com/blog/?p=173">badges.

The BBC's Dan Taylor writes about %3Ca%20href="https://www.fabricoffolly.com/2008/05/virtual-moonbeams-impossible-task-of.html">the difficulties of archiving dynamic online content - exemplified by the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/homepage/">new BBC homepage - and gives other Beeb-related examples:

I was hoping to link to the BBC's 'Book of the Future' in my previous post on collaborative storytelling, but was alarmed to discover that not only had the site been taken down, but the URL which had been used to promote the site (bbc.co.uk/future) was now redirecting to a page on the future role of public service broadcasting.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.planetbods.org/blog/2008/05/29/bbcifreesatweather">bbci_weather.pngAndrew Bowden of the BBC's interactive TV team %3Ca%20href="https://www.planetbods.org/blog/2008/05/29/bbcifreesatweather">relates the launch of the Freesat weather service, his team's "unnervingly accurate" estimates of delivery dates and BBCi's new service offering comments from %3Ca%20href="https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/default.stm">Question Time. That done, a certain summer sporting event is approaching:

With Weather out of the door, there's just the simple matter of the Olympics. For BBCi, the Olympics are huge - back in 2004, nearly 9m people used the BBCi Olympics service on Sky alone - and this year it's expected to be even bigger. And on Freesat too.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/david_hansen">David Hansen has put in %3Ca%20href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/freesat_and_full_post_codes">a Freedom Of Information request at WhatDoTheyKnow to the BBC which begins:

I write concerning the entering of whole post codes into Freesat receivers. This has to be done before the receiver will display programmes. Freesat is a joint venture between yourselves and ITV.

Robin Hamman gives this presentation to the %3Ca%20href="https://www.marcusevans.com/html/eventdetail.asp?eventID=13998&SectorID=29">Embracing New Media conference in Amsterdam and asks "Why do I do this to myself?!":

%3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/?src=embed">SlideShare | %3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/Cybersoc/blogging-and-social-media-content-as-communication?src=embed" title="View Blogging and Social Media - Content as Communication on SlideShare">View | %3Ca%20href="https://www.slideshare.net/upload?src=embed">Upload your own [external links]

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbtoday/">today_programme_logo.pngFinally, Chris Williams writes at %3Ca%20href="https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/19/today_programme_message_board/">The Register about the closure of %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbtoday/">the Today programme's message boards, followed by some comments sceptical about %3Ca%20href="https://reportr.net/2008/03/25/mitchell-and-webb-ask-what-do-you-reckon/">user-generated content, including %3Ca%20href="https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/19/today_programme_message_board/comments/">this from David Wilson:

The BBC may also tend to attract not only people with a feeling of entitlement, but a significant number of people who actively dislike the organisation and don't really care if the forums do suffer.
The "community" to "random-whiner" ratio seems pretty low.
The name "BBC" is particularly attractive to the kind of person with time to kill and an ego that thinks everyone else is in desperate need of the enlightenment only they can bring, as well as to regular trolls.

Alan Connor is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_hd_eurovision_sound_proble.html" rel="bookmark">BBC HD Eurovision Sound Problems

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Post categories: %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/hdtv/" rel="tag" title="">HDTV

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/seetha_kumar/"> Seetha Kumar%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/seetha_kumar/">Seetha Kumar | 09:22 UK time, Monday, 2 June 2008


I was embarrassed last week when %3Ca%20href="https://blogsearch.google.co.uk/blogsearch?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=eurovision+HD+BBC&btnG=Search+Blogs">blogs and %3Ca%20href="https://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=802407">Digital Spy discussed the sound problems which affected the coverage of the %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/eurovision/">Eurovision Song Contest on %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/hdtv/">BBC HD.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/hdtv/">logo_bbc_hd.pngI sincerely apologise. The programme was being broadcast with 5.1 surround sound, but due to a technical fault at Television Centre the left, right and surround audio tracks were blocked from reaching viewers' set-top boxes, preventing the audio being decoded correctly.

We at BBC HD are mortified that the viewing of a much awaited event was ruined. We are urgently looking into how the problem occurred and why it took as long as it did to switch to our contingency plan. We want to ensure this sort of problem is not repeated.

I will update you as soon as I can.

Seetha Kumar is Head of HDTV, BBC Vision.

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/05/">« May 2008 | | %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/07/">July 2008 »

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