Archives for November 2008

How Can We Improve Commenting Across BBC Online?

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Tom Van Aardt Tom Van Aardt | 19:34 UK time, Saturday, 29 November 2008

We are always trying to improve the public value of the BBC's different offerings on the web.

There is a fine balance between providing public value with broad appeal to the majority of licence fee payers on the one hand, while at the same time keeping up with new technology and experiences.

One of the areas we are spending a lot of time on is "comments".

BBC web properties have several ways of accepting user contributions, newsgathering, user generated content, comments, discussions or what ever you want to call it.

In the next week a group of us - from telly, radio, news and online - are putting together a presentation on our future requirements. We already have a long, long lists of ideas, but we need to know what the community actually wants.

I recently Twittered about this and got some interesting replies:

- @tomVS could I add 'switching off comments' to your list ;)

- @tomVS I hope you are including threaded commenting.

These are interesting ideas, and we've already put together a lot of others.

But I'd like to know what you think. We need the ideas before lunch on Monday, 1 December.

Use our (existing) commenting system below to build a wish list about our (future) commenting system.

Add your voice, about your voice...

Tom Van Aardt is Communities Editor, BBC Future Media & Technology

N.B.Tom has also posted a thread about comments on the Points of View message board.

BBC HD: Update and Christmas Schedule

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 14:42 UK time, Friday, 28 November 2008

Hello,

Apologies first for my long absence from the blog.

Secondly, thank you for all your virtual bouquets and other responses to the DOG decision - I am glad that it has helped to increase your enjoyment of the channel.

I have been dipping in and out to follow the conversations here - but I've been focussing my time on your behalf on trying to secure the pipeline of new programmes I hope that you'll want to watch flowing through to BBC HD.

I'm always grateful to you for making me aware of what's missing - and I do try to follow up. I know that you've identified the Strictly Come Dancing Results show as a concern - and I'll make a firm commitment that with just over a year to figure out ways of doing it, I am confident that it will be on BBC HD next year. You've also mentioned programmes like Merlin, Top Gear, and Formula 1 which you want to watch in HD on the channel. I'm having conversations about all of those on your behalf, and I'll let you know as soon as there's any news.

What I can tell you more about is our Christmas schedule. We've been given permission to extend our hours for the Christmas weeks, so from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day we'll be on air from noon, or sometimes a little earlier, until the early hours of the morning. The time will be filled with many of the BBC's Christmas films, including quite a few for younger members of the family. A number of the comedy Christmas specials will be on the channel in HD - including Gavin and Stacey and The Royle Family. You can also catch some of the BBC's original drama - like The 39 Steps, and There Was a Crooked House, a late night horror story in three parts. We've also tried to gather for you some of what we feel have been the best programmes we've put out on BBC HD over the last year - they'll include Lost Land of the Jaguar, Michael Palin's New Europe, and the Wimbledon's Men's Singles' Final (less a few of the breaks). I know I can trust you to let me know what you think and I'll look forward to the feedback.

testcardfThis weekend our new daytime channel tape (or "barker") goes on air. It combines tasters of some of the content from the channel over the year, and upcoming programmes. If you watch carefully you'll also see the return of an old friend - the BBC test card. Andy Quested, our Head of Technology, will explain more in due course - but yes, the girl with the blackboard is now in full high definition.

I will be back soon - really, this time.

Danielle Nagler is Head of HDTV, BBC Vision.

BBC iPlayer: Media Player Keyboard Upgrade For Blind Users

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Jonathan Hassell | 18:26 UK time, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Back in August I blogged about the difficulties blind people were having getting the best out of the BBC Media Player because of its lack of screenreader-accessible controls to jump around within a programme and change its volume.

Today I'm delighted to announce that we have launched a new version of our Media Player, which includes the ability for blind users to tab around all of its controls - including the volume and timeline controls - purely using the keyboard.

keyboardhands
(picture by djukami on Flickr)

Both controls use the same pattern for use: tab to the control, select it to enter into it, tab to the volume or location setting (in increments of 10% of the programme length) you desire, and select to jump to it. We've used this 'hierarchical' tabbing approach to minimise the number of tabs you have to do to move around the controls, ensuring that you don't have to tab all the way through the volume or location settings to get to the next control

This facility to tab through BBC iPlayer's controls allows greater access, not only for blind users, but also for anyone with dexterity impairments who can now control each of the BBC Media Player's controls purely using two keys - tab and space/enter - which can be easily mapped onto switches for those who use them.

I'd like to thank the blind and switch users who have helped us in testing the keyboard-accessible Player against different screenreaders, levels of familiarity with those screenreaders, and different switch setups.

I'd also like to thank User Vision who conducted the user testing, and AbilityNet who have been our expert accessibility testing partner in this project, ensuring that the keyboard experience of BBC iPlayer works in the same way across different screenreaders, many of which work with Flash in different ways.

This is the first of two steps we have been working on to make the Media Player as easy to use via the keyboard as we can.

The second step, which Julie Schiller and Liam O'Sullivan from our Accessibility and iPlayer teams are still working on, is to provide an additional set of keyboard shortcuts which will allow keyboard users to control all of the Media Player's functions directly. These shortcuts should allow users to jump around within a programme by time intervals of 1 and 10mins forwards and backwards, on top of the rest of the functionality in the current player.

While it may seem a simple thing to do to add such shortcuts, the work we are currently doing is to ensure that they do not clash with: those key-combinations used by screenreaders for their navigation functionality (which are different for each screenreader); those key-combinations which screenreaders can pass through to Flash; and those key-combinations which browsers use for their shortcuts (which are different for each browser). We are also working to ensure that the shortcuts perform in a predictable way where multiple instances of the Media Player appear on one page (as they often do on News pages).

I hope that blind and switch users will find the new BBC Media Player greatly improves their experience of using audio and video content across BBC Online, and especially the iPlayer.

If you have any comments or suggestions about how the accessibility of the BBC Media Player could be further improved, please do leave a comment. The BBC Audience Accessibility Team would also love to hear your views.

Jonathan Hassell is Head of Audience Experience & Usability, BBC Future Media & Technology

Points of View Message Board 2: Off Topic and Off Site

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 16:02 UK time, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Thanks for all your comments on my previous post.

My apologies that this one is late (due to technical problems beyond my control).

Some of you have asked what exactly I'm doing. As I explained before I'm now in charge of the POV boards. So I'm thinking about them (and doing some hosting as well). To reassure Curmy and Nippiesweetie I don't yet have a plan. I have some ideas and opinions which I'm sharing with you in order to help me think.

points_of_view_logo.jpgBefore I get to the main thrust of this post, I agree with you there are some things that blogs could learn from message boards. For example, I'm wondering whether users should have the ability to reply to an individual comment on a blog more easily, so it feels like more of a dialogue (and a search function on message boards might be a boon). I'll discuss these things further with my colleagues and see if they should go on our "to do" list.

It's blindingly obvious that what many of you like most about the POV boards is the ability to start a conversation about anything you like.

But the trouble with having a relatively open board is that if people can start threads about anything at all, they will, even if its unrelated to the subject matter of the board.

Which in the case of the Points of View boards is supposed to be "any aspect of the BBC". (My bold)

And the more open the board the easier it is to start multiple threads (something many of you have complained about), and to break the house rules.

In the short amount of time I've been hosting parts of the board I've spent nearly all of it moving threads to different places or closing them because they've been off topic. There's only been one instance where I've managed to encourage a conversation which might actually be useful to someone.

When I see a thread like this one for example I start scratching my head. The original message was someone asking what the music was on an advert for Barclays bank (it's been moderated out, but you can read the rest of the thread) Why does this conversation start on a BBC board when the subject has absolutely nothing to do with the BBC? Should we be spending licence fee payers' money on this?

Some of you reading this may have heard of a gentleman called Tom Loosemore. He did a lot of work for the BBC a while ago and outlined some "Web 2.0 principles". One of these principles was "Link to discussions on the web, don't host them".

So in that spirit I'm going to be provocative.

The POV message boards currently has threads on Coronation Street, Emmerdale, I'm A Celebrity and Sharpe's Regiment. ITV.com also has its own forums, with threads about Corrie and Emmerdale and I'm A Celebrity.

POV has a board called "The BBC". Yet most newspapers who are online when they write a story about the BBC now allow comments. Here's a recent example from the Daily Mail. The Guardian's Comment Is Free has a section on the BBC (here's a link to all comments). There's even community blogs like Biased BBC (if you've never been there before I should warn you the views there can be strongly expressed and sometimes extreme).

POV has a board called Digital. Digital Spy covers the same ground and more. The Internet blog has a section about BBC HDTV.

POV has a board called "bbc.co.uk". The Internet blog was precisely set up to talk about what the BBC does online.

Do you ever use any of these alternatives? How are the POV boards better?

And what do you think of Officer Dibble's comment on my last post:

..."the only reason that the board is superior to the Digital Spy alternatives is the BBC brand that drives the traffic..."

Comment and I will engage. And there will be more posts to come. In particular I have one in mind about accountability which seems to lead naturally on from this one.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

News on the go

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 10:23 UK time, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

How do you get your news at different times of the day? When do you want headlines on the radio and when do you sit down and watch a TV bulletin or log on to see what's happening? And, of particular interest to us right now, how do you keep up to date if you're out and about or commuting?

We've been carrying out some audience research to ask people these questions, and we've been specifically asking whether and when they use their mobiles to get news (or sport, or weather or travel). And if they don't, whether they ever would.

Read more and comment here at The Editors at BBC News

Steve Herrmann is Editor, BBC News website

Interesting Stuff 2008-11-24

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Dave Lee | 16:16 UK time, Monday, 24 November 2008

It has been announced that BBC One and BBC Two will for the first time be simulcast on the internet, starting on Thursday:

From 27 November licence fee payers will be able to watch BBC programmes, live, wherever they are in the UK on their computers, mobile phones and other portable devices."

Andy Quested has been discussing HD issues following his post a couple of weeks ago:

Most of the HD programmes we make are 1080p25 (recorded, post produced and delivered 1080psf25) so are at the highest possible quality. Other programmes are 1080i25 so we have them in the archive at a standard that the rest of the world accepts as HD.

BBC Backstage's t-shirt competition closes in just under a week.

jools

Rowan de Pomerai has blogged about his time with the Later Live with Jools Holland team. He details the challenge ahead for making BBC programmes. Worth a read if you're interested in how the BBC mixes its audio.

This year's Social Innovation Camp is taking place on 5th-7th December. They've just announced the seventh winning entry - Carbon Co-op. Read more about all the entries here. To sign up to the event, visit here. Alternatively, if you've no idea what all this is about, click here.

For reaction to the BBC local decision, please refer to this post

Finally, an absolute treat for Doctor Who fans. The Doctor Who collection has just launched on our archive site. Find documents ranging from early plot outlines to reports considering if the BBC should be making Science Fiction dramas at all. One reaction to the first episode: "A police box with a beacon travelling through interstallar space - what claptrap!"

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

BBC Local Decision: Reaction

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Dave Lee | 12:02 UK time, Monday, 24 November 2008

Last week the BBC Trust rejected plans to invest £68 million in BBC Local services. Media regulator Ofcom believes annual revenues for local commercial providers would drop by 4%.

bbc_trust_foi.pngThe Newspaper Society has welcomed the decision, saying:

We are pleased that the BBC Trust and Ofcom have responded to the industry's concerns and rejected the BBC Local Video plans for the time being. This is a proposal which the BBC should never have made and would have severely reduced consumers' media choice and the rich tapestry of local news and information provision in the UK"

However, the National Union of Journalists criticises the trust's conclusions:

Newspaper employers have spent years taking huge profits out of local media whilst cutting jobs. Now they have helped stop new jobs being created because they said such competition would stifle their investment.

Writing in yesterday's Observer, Peter Preston hails the decision as a blessing in disguise:

The trust, in a small but significant way, has offered the corporation a chance to silence some critics and become, once again, more appreciated for what it offers than for where it threatens to go next."

On PaidContent, Robert Andrews, condemns the trust's decision:

BBC Trust has gained a track record for restricting BBC innovation, mostly aiming to protect commercial media in a manner than makes the Beeb's place in the pecking order plain - the broadcaster can only launch a substantive digital initiative if someone else hasn't got there first."

Our own blogger-in-residence Steve Bowbrick says the decision is "sad", suggesting that the knock-on effect of a BBC investment in local news would be positive rather than negative:

The newsgathering and distribution facilities (studios, newsrooms, personnel, servers, bandwidth, CMS) purchased at wholesale rates by the BBC could be opened up to local players to produce real benefits to communities and struggling media outlets."

Blogger Daithí Mac Síthigh on his Lex Farenda blog says:

the Trust's report goes on at great length about how the proposed service would not reach out to all communities because it was broadband-only. Have they ever tried to watch streaming video over dial-up?

Daithí is also flattered that his blog post was picked up by the Today programme.

Guardian Media blogger Roy Greenslade describes the decision as the "first major example of the trust showing its muscles", but issues a warning to the regional press:

More and more people are seeking news online and they want a good service. Now, freed from the "burden" of BBC competition, publishers must prove that they are willing to do the job they have prevented the BBC from doing.

Cheshire-based journalist Louise Bolotin weighs in, saying that the regionals should see this as an opportunity to improve:

Regional newspapers are, as expected, heaving a huge sigh of relief. It's understandable as the BBC's video news proposals would undoubtedly have had an impact on local news provision. However, they should not feel threatened by the addition of one single web page to Aunty's sprawler of a site. They now have an opportunity to get their act together. If they are so worried about the BBC muscling to provide local news, then they need to provide it themselves in a more consumable form than they currently do."

Finally, Press Gazette gauges the reaction of the big names in regional press, complete with assurances from Trinity Mirror Chief Executive Sly Bailey:

We can now continue to invest without the fear that a publicly funded giant would be duplicating already existing services.
However, we will still be seeking assurances from the BBC Trust that the BBC will not be overstepping the boundaries of their current service licence by launching new hyperlocal map-based news services."

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet blog

Strictly Message Board: What Happened Update

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 16:52 UK time, Friday, 21 November 2008

As promised here's a bit more detail about what happened this week on the Strictly Come Dancing message boards.

On Wednesday after John Sargeant announced his decision, between noon and ten p.m., we received 12,038 contributions to group discussions on the Strictly boards. This is almost three times more than for the same period on the previous day.

The key to the decision to close the board was not just the very high level of comments. We also had ten times as many new users registering to comment. At one point ten new people were registering every minute.

And new users need to be checked by moderators. Tom explains more in his comment on his previous post.

"Messages" or "contributions" doesn't mean users, people and certainly not complaints. One user can put up more than one message.

On the complaints point I noticed this story in the Daily Telegraph. To describe "comments" as "complaints" is an occasional mistake made by people and even by some users of the boards. Commenting on a message board isn't the same as lodging a formal complaint with the BBC's complaints procedures - although comments can be, and often are, critical.

In this case however, they weren't particularly critical of the BBC. In terms of the tone of the posts, I can't do a statistical breakdown. But Paul of the Central Communities Team gave me a sense of how the messages he was moderating could be divided.

The number of messages Paul saw that supported John's Sargeant's decision (and were glad he has left for the sake of the dancing) were roughly equal to the numbers of posts urging him to stay.

So for example Lady PPG said:

John, you have been an entertaining and delightful participant in Strictly. There is now a John Seargant shaped gap in the programme which no-one will be able to fill. Thanks for the memories!"

john_sargeant_kristina_rihanoff.jpg

John Sargeant and Kristina Rihanoff

While on the other hand fancyRiverrat was not sorry to see John go:

About time. A man fallen on his own petard, now perhaps we can get on with the dance competion."

Only a very small proportion of the posts were critical of the BBC. There were many messages critical of the judges, like this one.

We were able to process all comments in the backlog by 7 a.m. on Thursday. So if you want to get your own sense of what people were saying you can just look at the board. Since there are now a lot of threads then a good place to start is this one:

Incidentally, it's always nice to have another perspective:

I am going to complain about everyone else complaining."

In my view Tom's decision to close the board instead of not moderating was absolutely the right thing to do.

And if you want just one reason, our moderators were able to catch at least one example of spam porn (with a nasty virus attached) before it appeared on the board. If moderation had been down and the boards wide open you might have seen something very unpleasant.

But if you were in his shoes what would you have done? The four options we had were:

1. Turn off moderation entirely

2. Draft in untrained moderators (we would have needed at least four working through the evening)

3. Delete the thousands of messages in the backlog

4. Close the boards overnight so the mods could work through the comments.

Leave your preferred option below and Paul has said he will respond.

Moderation and message boards are much on my mind at the moment.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know I've started to talk to regular posters at the Points of View message board as a way of aiding my understanding (And if you're one of them my apologies in advance for not publishing a follow up post today. It's already taken me too long to write this one. It will happen Monday).

An incident like this gives me plenty of food for thought as I continue to learn.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

Strictly Message Board: What Happened

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Tom Van Aardt Tom Van Aardt | 15:02 UK time, Thursday, 20 November 2008

The British public obviously cares a great deal about Strictly Come Dancing, perhaps more than anything else in the world.

After John Sergeant pulled out, we had an incredible response on the BBC message boards on Wednesday 19 November.

Eventually, I decided to close the Strictly Come Dancing board at 22:00 so the moderators could work through the backlog of messages. Personally I think Paul on the Central Communities Team and our external moderation provider did an amazing job to try and keep this under control.

Here's a more detailed breakdown of what happened.

quit_strictly.JPGWe had an increasing number of messages in the moderation queue during the day. The Communities Team and our external partners kept me informed as the numbers kept steadily rising, and by lunch time the queue was extraordinarily high.

At half past three we were already two hours behind on moderating comments, meaning something that got posted at 13:26 was only appearing at 15:25. On a busy day we get new messages checked and posted within less than an hour.

By late afternoon we had all our internal and external moderators on it, we had reduced the number of pre-modded posts for new users down to 3, and we had our own super-mod on it (and he can do 400 comments per hour - accurately!)

By five p.m. we had to cut the new user pre-modding down to two, and then one. It was clear that the problem was being caused by new users wanting to comment, and as all new users are pre-modded before any of their comments are shown, the queue kept on growing.

Between five and six we had dropped the pre-modding down to one, and the "speedbump" was moved up from three minutes to five minutes. This is a time restriction between posts so that people can't use a BBC message board like instant messaging. We had hoped that this would allow us to bring the queue down to something manageable.

To give you an idea, we get worried when a queue reaches 500-600 unmoderated comments. By late afternoon we were running at over 2000 coments. This was in spite of putting all mods on there together along with all the temporary rule changes.

For the last hour of the day we started lifting restrictions on other boards (such as Points of View) to alleviate the burden on moderators and get them to focus on Strictly Come Dancing. We tried for one final hour before six to get the queue down, and hoped that as people left work at six the comments would stop rolling in.

Unfortunately this didn't happen, and the queue kept growing. After seven it was clear to me that we were going to have a problem overnight - the Central Communities Team had to go home at some point, and we normally only have one moderator on duty throughout the night as we close most boards for commenting.

Broadly speaking I had two options open to me as we went past 8 p.m.:

Lift the rule on pre-modding comments from new users, effectively opening up the boards to anyone and everyone without managing the input

Or

Close the SCD board at ten, and start working on this again Thursday morning while the mods worked through the night to clear the backlog.

Our primary responsibilities are towards the community and the BBC's editorial values.

I didn't want to run the risk of having a free, open board - especially one attracting so many comments. I'd rather run the risk of being accused of censorship than have libellous, abusive, racist or otherwise damaging content.

Judging by the comments Paul received when he posted the closure notice we did the right thing. In fact, most of the comments commended the team and asked us to clean up the Strictly board even more.

Tom van Aardt is Communities Editor, BBC Future Media & Technology

(N.B. Editor's note 7.25 p.m. The final two paragraphs in this post have been removed as they contain factual inaccuracies. I'll update you with some better numbers and more detail tomorrow (NR))

Strictly Come Dancing Message Board Closing At 10 p.m

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 20:57 UK time, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Unfortunately due to the sheer volume of comments, plus the high number of new people who wish to join the conversation, the Strictly Come Dancing messageboard will be closing tonight at 10 p.m.

Paul, from our Central Communities team explains more here.

The board will reopen at 9 a.m. Thursday. It will take time to work through the backlog of comments so please bear with us.

And there'll be a more detailed post on the Internet blog tommorow.

Update (Thursday 11 a.m) : the Strictly board is now open again. Please leave your comments there rather than here. Thanks.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

Interesting Stuff 2008-11-19

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Dave Lee | 11:55 UK time, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones has written this interesting piece about journalists using social networking to connect with their audience. Originally penned for Ariel, our internal newspaper, he wonders if journalists using services like Twitter (if you're a member, follow us @bbccouk)are on a bit of an ego trip and are in danger of wasting their time:

The 1,300 people in my Twitter community know a lot about technology but if I devote too much time to them, then I'm in danger of letting down millions of viewers and listeners who will never go near a social network. Then there's the fact that small pressure groups can hijack these networks - open source software groups are well-organised but should I listen to them more than Windows or Mac users?"

radioattheedge

(left to right: Fi Glover, Rory Cellan-Jones, Dan Heaf & Iain Lee) Photo by byrion on Flickr.

Daniel Bennett lays into the argument with a comparison between Rory and 'Bob', his make-believe, pre-web journalist.

boxingkangaroos

In the FT on Friday, 'Project Kangaroo' takes a bit of a beating from Kip Meek, chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group:

Imagine underlying demand for it is fantastically high, requiring BT and ISPs to invest heavily to maintain service levels. In this environment, Kangaroo would have benefited from next generation access but borne none of the risk."

In reply, a spokesman for Kangaroo said:

The creation of any on-demand content platform carries its own investment risks and the truth is great content is helping ISPs build their businesses."

Our blogger in residence, Steve Bowbrick, has a detailed post discussing his meeting with a person he's calling the "most important person at the BBC right now". That person is Matt McDonnell, and he's in charge of search.

Media coverage of death of Baby P brings all sorts challenges for BBC Online. Martin Belam discusses the issue of carrying out court orders online, particularly when dealing with pulled articles that, despite being removed by us, remain online via Google Cache and similar.

Erik Huggers, director of BBC Future Media and Technology, has been busy once again setting out his vision for the BBC of the future. Press Gazette reports that Huggers expects BBC.co.uk to be the BBC's second biggest channel, second only to flagship channel BBC One. Erik's thoughts are backed up today by the news that 24% of consumers watch content on BBC iPlayer for an hour a week or more.

Finally, BBC Backstage is hosting no less than two Christmas parties this year. One for anyone around Manchester, and another for anyone around London - both taking place on 13th December.

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

The Future of TV: Between Voice and Choice?

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Max Gadney | 13:16 UK time, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

A few of us recently got together at a very lo-spec sharing of projects and ideas called Beebcamp. Roo Reynolds of BBC Vision wrote up some of it on his blog and I thought I would expand on some of what I talked about.

I mentioned that different BBC departments will need to collaborate in the the grey area between the need for a Voice and the wealth of Choice - when it comes to defining how people will consume video in the future.

FM&T's blogger in residence Steve Bowbrick has interviewed Matt McDonnell about search here and their discussion is obviously technology led - so in what follows I'm trying to open up the debate to include all parts of the business.

There could be a tendency for traditional television executives to depend on the Voice - e.g. established TV Channels and Programme brands.

On the flipside, the technologists could believe that this will all be solved by the algorithms and interfaces of on-demand technology - The Choice.

The answer is somewhere in between, so lets have a look at what the qualities are of 'Choice and Voice':

11596111_99a94a1939
Photo by aemkei on Flickr.

Voice

Voices include the BBC Television Channels of BBC One, Two, Three and Four. They have traditionally helped people to decide what to watch. They are brands - they are a promise, frequently fulfilled, of what you will get.

For a brand to succeed you must get something you want and expect from them. Established Voice brands are having to compete in a fragmented market- where people are only loyal to the brands that frequently satisfy them.

Choice

Our most obvious Choice product is the very successful BBC iPlayer, allowing people to catch up at their convenience. In addition to this, the BBCis developing recommendations systems - allowing you get options more relevant to your interests anywhere on the BBC online. Choice is about relevance of content and convenience of the distribution. The danger is when these suggestions become the only means of consumption - and people require other suggestions outside the areas that are already known to or selected by them.

The area between Choice and Voice

If TV executives and technologists can appreciate the strengths of what each can offer - the (still) dominance of linear television brands and the emerging sophistication of on-demand technologies will compliment each other.

What will these new forms of suggestion be? What are the new Choices? What are the new Voices? Who and what will people trust to filter their options? How will our models of trust change?

Are Choice & Voice the right areas for us to be considering or do you think that we missing something here? Should we tear it all down and start again? What do you do and what would you like to see us do? Any thoughts welcome.

Max Gadney is Channel Editor, Multiplatform, BBC Vision.

Points Of View Message Board

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 15:56 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

Recently my boss Jem Stone has gone to BBC radio where he's now in charge of their communities, blogs and message boards. Which means that some of the things he used to have responsibility for have fallen to Tom Van Aardt (Communities Editor, FM&T) and to me.

One of these is the Points of View message board.

Our moderators put in a lot of effort to ensure that inappropriate comments are removed from the boards.

But moderation and hosting are not the same thing. Whisky usefully explains the difference here. And (as Ångelicweeyin among others have noticed) it's fair to say that recently the level of hosting on the boards has been less than ideal.

So to "sort out these boards" both myself and Jem are now taking on a more active role hosting them. And in the next few weeks we hope to have additional hosting on the boards as well. So I hope the situation will improve.

everything_in_moderation_including_excess.jpg
Everything in moderation including excess" photo from major clanger on flickr.

Which is as good a time as any to remind you that BBC boards do have House Rules.

dna_house_rules.pngAs Jem has said here we don't close threads just because they embarrass the BBC. But offensive, abusive, or threatening personal comments about BBC staff, talent, other members of the boards or indeed anybody will be moderated. As indeed will anything likely to get someone sued.

Personally I'm more of a blogger than a message board man. But it's always good to learn. My initial sense after having rummaged around on the POV boards for a bit is that while there are some lively discussions there's also a lot of off topic chat.

Myself, Tom, Jem and Roo Reynolds (who works in BBC Television and is no relation) are currently talking about the Points of View boards and how they fit with the rest of the BBC's blogs and message boards.

So I'd like to know what you think.

Are you a regular user of the POV boards? Are they easy to use? What's good and bad about them? Does it make sense to call them "Points of View"?

How do they compare with your experience of the BBC's blogs or other BBC communities?

Do you prefer the radio messageboards or BBC News' Editors blog? Is the Strictly Come Dancing message board better?

Leave your comments and I'll will engage (and try and keep them on topic please).

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog but is doing other things as well

Interesting Stuff 2008-11-13: Pete Clifton Interview

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 16:06 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Pete Clifton of BBC News interviewed in audio by Jemima Kiss at Media Guardian:

I see no reason why we couldn't be doing this in an open way"

Pete was interviewed at the Society of Editors Conference.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

Moving on from the broadcast era

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick | 10:40 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The broadcast era is coming to an end. The network era is well under way. Only openness can keep the BBC relevant through the transition.

Why do I want the BBC to be more open?

I want it to open up to the people who fund it and - more important - the people who underwrite its legitimacy (that's you and me). The closed, broadcast-era BBC sells me a licence to view the stuff it makes. In the open, network era it's the other way round - I licence the BBC to represent me and my aspirations in its output.

I want the BBC to set out its plans for the post-broadcast era (which is here now, in case you hadn't noticed). I want the clever people who work there to show us how they plan to replace old-man Reith's monolithic, centralised consent machine with something more distributed, more open - something adapted to the network era.

I want to hear how the BBC can adapt to the shift from the creation of linear content to the creation of a library of tools and resources, open source code and rich, reusable content (some of which will still feature Bruce Forsyth) that will make things possible and create real opportunities for generations of British people.

I want to learn how the BBC will adapt its magnificent, industrial-era guiding principles - Inform, Educate and Entertain - to the manufacture of tools that support learning (formal and informal), creation (for love, for fun, for profit), enterprise (encouraging entrepreneurship), participation (in the democratic process, in society and institutions) and community (linking people, finding common ground, social coherence).

I want to see evidence that the BBC can create content and processes in a web-like way, that loyalty to arbitrary broadcast-era concepts and structures - channels and series and genres and so on - won't hold back the transition to new forms and ways of working.

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Photo of a fortress from stevec77 on flickr

I want to see that the BBC believes in all this, that there's an acceptance that fortress BBC is indefensible and that a retreat to 'what we do best' (the defence of existing brands and practices) can only make things worse. This is not about change for its own sake or about imposing trendy Internet novelties: it's about the survival of the Corporation and about its continued relevance for Britain.

And finally I'd like the BBC to do all this with real confidence and optimism and with a sense that the benefits of getting this epic transition right are incalculable. If the Corporation can tackle two or three really big, really ambitious open projects - liberating the archive for the nation's benefit, creating an identity platform that gives ownership of user data back to the users or pulling off some kind of Wikipedia mind-meld to blend the BBC's awesome editorial resource with the net's fastest growing library, for instance - the support and enthusiasm of the licence fee-payers will be much easier to secure and the whole task will seem much less daunting.

Before I started here I wrote a handful of blog posts on this topic at my personal blog:

Freeing content at the BBC

The BBC Common Platform debate

A common platform

In the last couple of months I've seen some evidence that the BBC is ready for this challenge and I've documented some of the important work that's already under way.

Picking a couple of examples:

Mark Friend, Controller of A&Mi, told me about a fascinating plan to provide access to web site users' attention data and about his vision for an open speech radio archive.

Tom Scott explained the explosion of links to external music resources taking place at /music. Rob Hardy (and Michael Sparks) told me about the huge amount of code already released under various open source licences by the BBC's developers.

But there are large parts of the Corporation (not least in the various management suites) where the old broadcast truths still hold and where the transition has hardly begun. At Common Platform I drew a picture of the barriers to openness I've learnt about since I arrived: daunting but not in any sense insurmountable!

The BBC's Building Public Value, written four years ago, offers an early blueprint for the transition to the network era. It's a sadly neglected document that could do with updating.

Here's a terrific blog post from Tom Scott who is a very important techie in BBC Audio & Music. His starting point is Building Public Value.

I'll keep you informed!

Steve Bowbrick is blogger in residence, BBC Future Media & Technology

What Should We Do With Our Pageflake?

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 11:14 UK time, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

So yesterday Herd blog wrote a post praising the Internet blog's use of Pageflakes.

Then all of a sudden our Pageflakes changed.

A load of flakes that we hadn't subscribed to suddenly appeared (I'm sure the E! channel is very nice but it's got nothing to do with the BBC), including a "sponsored links" flake (or advert as I prefer to call it).

We have removed the flakes we don't want. But the advert cannot be removed or even moved to a less prominent position.

I understand that Pageflakes have to make money. But we've had our flake for nearly a year with no advertising on it so it's irritating for it to suddenly appear now. And my anguished plea on the Pakeflakes forum has (at time of writing) so far gone unanswered.

So I have a dilemma.

I love Pageflakes. It's an essential tool for me to track conversation about the BBC.

fat_flake.jpgBut I hate the ad. I don't need a Jaguar car and I already know the answer to the question "Why am I fat?".

Does anyone apart from me actually use the Internet blog's pageflake? Because if you don't we may scrap the flake and find another way.

Or there any alternatives I could use which will not serve up ads?

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

Interesting Stuff 2008-11-10

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Dave Lee | 13:39 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

Much has been made of BBC director of Future Media and Technology Erik Huggers' comments at the Screen Digest conference.

On bringing iPlayer to an international audience, Huggers said:

The internet is, by definition, a global medium, yet today we are artificially blocking international access to the iPlayer. That's a problem, in my mind, and a big challenge for the industry."

He goes on to hint at a social media future for the catch-up service:

I know that bbc.co.uk is the third biggest web property in the country, yet every time I go there I feel completely alone. Instinctively, I know there are other people on the site so the idea is connecting audiences with programming and with each other, embracing that big theme of social media."

What could this mean? Ashley Norris - founder of TechDigest, the blog that kicked off the Shiny Media network - weighs in with the hope that a more social iPlayer could mean a wealth of independent talent being seen via the service:

Imagine how cool it would be for the iPlayer to also offer access to vidcasts like Viropop, Megawhat, ChannelFlip and (cough) PopJunkieTV. It would give the Beeb an opportunity to bring new British web based content providers to a much larger audience. Maybe shows which started in bedrooms in north London could even up as BBC comissioned programmes. The start ups would love the wider distribution for their shows too."

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On Friday, we re-energised our @bbccouk Twitter feed. I asked how we should be using the service, and many of you got in touch. General concensus was that we should, as @cruickers and @jobadge suggested, add a sprinkle of personality to what's going on behind the scenes. The suggestions are all the more interesting when you consider the kind of feedback we recieved when first launching the feed back in March.

One Twitterer (tweeter?) asked why we publish full feeds for our blogs yet summary feeds for our news items. Jem Stone posted about full feeds for blogs back in June, but News is still snippets only. Why? We'll find out and let you know.

In other news, social behemoth Facebook has, according to this source, gone ahead of bbc.co.uk for the first time ever in web traffic. Assuming there isn't a mass-exodus over the new interface, Facebook is set to expand even more before the end of the year.

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Meanwhile, BBCi Labs have brought a touch of Scotland into their West London office (above). The team have installed a special viewing station in order to monitor Freeview output to Selkirk. As the digital switchover continues, more and more regions will be set up in this way.

The linking out debate continues over on Blogstorm. Commenter MJ Ray says the BBC are being too browser-centric in their standards. He says:

It's the equivalent of saying "you will buy a TV receiver from X, Y or Z" instead of "we're broadcasting 625-line PAL ... " and so on."

The ex-BBC man Martin Belam replied with:

I suppose the BBC could say we produce exactly standards complaint code, and if it doesn't work for the majority of our audience who use 'vendor' supplied browsers, then tough cookies, but that doesn't really support universal access, does it?"

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

Music Beta: Linking Artists To News

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Matthew Shorter Matthew Shorter | 19:27 UK time, Friday, 7 November 2008

musicbeta.jpgIt's all been a bit quiet on the BBC Music Beta front recently while the team has been crunching data and tweaking designs behind the scenes. What's currently got us busiest is working out how we can provide more complete data of which artists are played in which programmes. (Here's some detail about why that matters.) Most of the work in this area involves building tools for producers to be able to update this data in a way that's easy & effective, and can also generate brand-based views of the data like tracklists which offer links to artists. Which all takes time.

But I digress - because the good news is we also have a nice juicy new piece of content to announce. One of our developers, Patrick Sinclair, has found a very smart way of automatically including links to relevant BBC News stories in our artist pages. The gratifying thing about this is that we've found a way of rewarding good web citizenship. Patrick explains it all much better than I could.

Matthew Shorter is Interactive Editor, Music, BBC Audio & Music Interactive.

What Should We Do With Our Twitter?

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Dave Lee | 13:00 UK time, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Editor's note: Dave Lee will be co-editor of the BBC Internet blog while Alan Connor works elsewhere in the BBC for a while (on BBC News' Magazine). Make Dave welcome!

The BBC's website has increasingly been using Twitter to help readers and viewers get involved in what we do.

It seems to be working -- so many people commented on the US election coverage last night that "BBC" registered as one Twitter's hot topics, alongside the likes of "Obama", "McCain" and "Palin".

The frequency of 'tweets' about the BBC far surpasses feedback on the Internet Blog. Using the pageflakes page, we try to keep on top of these discussions as best we can and sometimes showcase them on the blog.

A couple of days ago I reactivated our own Twitter account (@bbccouk). Hopefully the 105 of you that already follow it will have noticed updates giving notification of a new blog post.

tweet.jpg

However, we don't want to just use our Twitter feed as a means of telling you when there is a new post -- that's what our RSS feed is for.

We'd much rather use it for more useful purposes. Problem is, we're not entirely sure what those purposes should be.

How would you like the @bbccouk Twitter feed to operate? What would be useful to you? What would you absolutely not want us to do? Should we call it something else?

Any answers gratefully recieved.

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet blog

BBC HD: Picture Quality and Dolby Research

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Andy Quested Andy Quested | 11:17 UK time, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Over the months we have had many comments about the BBC HD channel on this blog, other chat rooms and directly to the BBC HD team.

Not all of them are negative in fact many of them are very positive.

Whenever I see negative technical comments I do always look at the issues.

dolbysurround190

Only last week hobwell spotted the 5.1/2.0 switching had stopped some time during the evening. I hadn't watched the stereo programme concerned and I didn't see the comment until 18:30 the following day but I watched the channel start and as I knew the first programme was stereo I was on the phone to the duty engineers in a few minutes. We had the problem fixed, put out an on air apology very quickly and I posted some comments in Danielle's DOG Blog!

(Dolby labs picture from deltamike on flickr)

Other comments on quality do take some investigation.

As a slight change to my usual commentary I wanted to share some of a reply I gave recently to a more general complaint about picture quality on the BBC HD channel.

It also allows me to introduce Rowan de Pomerai, a BBC Research graduate who is working with me for the next few months on a project to improve Dolby E sound on BBC HD.

Rowan has his own blog so you can keep up to date with his project and his thoughts there!

Here is an edited version of the response to the complaint:

"Thank you for your comments about the quality of programmes on the BBC HD Channel...

I want to assure you we do take picture quality very seriously and use a rigorous quality check before any programme delivered on tape is transmitted. Whenever we can we also work with studio and outside broadcast companies to make sure live programmes meet the highest standard too.

You mentioned Amazon was "colour merging". I am not sure what you mean by this but I have not seen anything similar on my home display. I have spotted one other post that compares Amazon to the Sky 1 series "Ross Kemp on..." saying the latter has much higher picture quality.

I have watched both series in HD and must say they are similar in several respects, they both have very good HD content mixed with standard definition material and some sequences that have obviously been shot under very challenging conditions.

I agree some of the low light and night sequences in Amazon are not up to the standard of the majority of the programme.

Programmes like Amazon will always have sequences where conditions mean no matter how good the broadcast technology, domestic cameras that are always much smaller and less conspicuous will be used to reduce risk to the crew with a resulting loss in picture quality.

We are always looking at new technologies that will improve the picture quality in challenging environments but it will take some time before it is uniformly high. In the mean time programmes must limit the amount of standard definition or low quality high definition to 25% of their duration.

Your comment about the Tudors is one I cannot understand or agree with. I still have the series on my PVR and watched quite a bit before writing this. The Tudors is extremely well shot, has very little if any video noise and is beautifully colour balanced.

If this programme looks poor on your television could I ask you to re-check your settings? I would recommend turning the sharpness setting to zero, not to use any of the preset picture modes and to turn off, or reduce to zero all picture enhancement options. I would also recommend turning the contrast setting of your set top box to medium or low before adjusting the brightness and contrast on your display.

If you are looking at some of the chat rooms commenting on the quality of the BBC's HD Channel you will have seen threads discussing our transmission bit rate. The channel's bit rate has remained constant at just over 16Mbs since early last year. I don't often recommend external websites but you might find this one interesting.

I am always watching the channel and do make recommendations to any programme that has variable or substandard sequences to see if we can improve it. All programmes have to meet the technical standards of the channel before they can be transmitted but occasionally even we are caught out by a problem that does not come to light until the actual transmission.

The quality of some several recent programmes has been outstanding. The Goldfrapp Electric Prom was one of the best I've seen, Tess Of The Durbervilles was beautifully shot and from the sections I've seen Little Dorrit should be stunning.

The range of programmes made in high definition will continue to increase over the next few years and we will explore what works and what is just not worth it until high definition is the normal mode of operation.

Many of our high definition programmes use the 25 frame progressive standard (film style). I know some people do not like this and think it degrades the resolution of the picture, while others think it contributes to the quality and style of the programme. This mode does actually have more resolution than the 25 frame interlace standard. Amazon, Silent Witness, Tess, in fact virtually all drama, Natural History and many documentaries use this standard.

silentwitness

Cranford, Silent Witness (right), Tess and other dramas are also using the latest large image format cameras. Theses cameras use a single image sensor that is about the same size as a 16:9 35mm film frame and gives the image a very shallow depth of field. A shallow depth of field will put all but the key subject out of focus and allows a director to use focus as a story telling tool. Again some people think high definition pictures should be pin sharp from the nose of a person in close-up to the trees on the horizon, others find all this visual information distracting and a drama director will use focus to point you to the action they want you to watch.

Here lies another point of confusion; sharpness is not the same as resolution. A picture can be very sharp but contain very little detail. This is especially true in standard definition where electronic sharpening is added in cameras to make the image seem clearer. We do not encourage the use of electronic sharpening in high definition cameras and prefer images to look more natural.

I am currently working on an issue we (and other broadcasters) are having with the Dolby E signal that's used move up to eight channels of audio in the space of two. I have a research graduate from BBC Research working with me, this is very exciting as it is an opportunity not only to deal with problems but to delve deeply into the underlying technology and maybe make improvements that all broadcasters can benefit from. Rowan has his own blog and he will be posting comments on the project when he can - here is the latest.

To finish, there are many comments praising the quality of the HD Channel's quality. I am also aware of the many threads berating the channel's lack of quality, I do read them all and try to address some of the concerns in my blogs and as they come up.

If you would like to read more about BBC Research you can find them here

Yours sincerely...."

As I said at the begining of the letter we do take comments seriously and try to address complaints and enquiries. I hope this sparks off a lively debate and look forward to your thoughts on Rowan's work.

Andy Quested is Principal Technologist, HD, BBC FM&T.

Knowing When To "Go"

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John O' Donovan | 12:26 UK time, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Recently, in response to feedback, we have been putting more external links onto the BBC site and have also started using tracking for external links on the BBC News sites.

Essentially the reason for tracking links is to allow us to report to the BBC Trust how many click-throughs we are generating to external sites so that they can accurately monitor this.

We have had some feedback that the way we are doing this has an unintended side effect ("BBC pledges to link out - but holds back the Google juice").

Strategically there is no intention to drink all the Google Juice. The reasons for this are less sinister and I thought it worth explaining.

Google JuiceThe system the BBC uses for tracking external links has been around for years, but we only recently added this tracking to the external links on the Right Hand Side of the BBC News site. You will find the /go/ tracking system in use across the BBC website and the way it redirects links is nothing new. You can see the mechanism working if you use a /go/ URL off the BBC site (e.g. this). (Editor's note 6.44 p.m.: To see the tracking mechanism in action, you need to be on a website that isn't the BBC. We suggest you copy this entire link into a new browser window or tab: https://www.bbc.co.uk/go/bristol/content/features/2003/01/13/ sayingaboutus.shtml/ext/_auto/-/https://www.venue.co.uk/ )

On the BBC site you don't get this delay, but you can see what it is doing - it is basically logging that you have clicked a link from he BBC to an external site by going to the intermediary page and then sends you on to this page. Many sites use similar mechanisms and have to deal with the side effects of this.

We are rolling out improvements to the way this works, as already used on some other parts of the website. Essentially we use JavaScript to retain SEO ("Search Engine Optimisation") and Google juice for external sites, while we will still be able to track external links. Search Engines, casual observers and those without JavaScript will still see the original URL.

So thanks for your comments but because of the workload around the US election, bear with us while we improve the way this works.

I can't speak for the history of /go/ tracking at the Beeb, but there is some more background in Martin Belam's post here for those interested...

John O'Donovan is Chief Architect, BBC FM&T Journalism

Google Gulp image courtesy of Google

Election Party!

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John O' Donovan | 12:34 UK time, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

election_mobile.jpg

We are working hard to ensure the US Election will be as hard to avoid as a dull and rainy New Year's Eve, so you may as well join us and watch it. Even better, stay up all night and go crazy with cookies and hot chocolate in your own election party, but make sure you research some US Presidential Trivia to annoy your friends and family.

The web site on election night should feel more dynamic than it has ever done before, thanks to a host of Flash, AJAX and JSON features updating results, tickers and maps in real time. You can see an example of how the homepage will look on the night below. It has all been put together by an extensive team too numerous to list here, but you know who you are.

newsfrontpageelection

Over on the Editors Blog, Steve Herrmann has outlined some of the features we will have running for the US election. In particular you may be wondering how the new "single" results system works and how the BBC calls the results as it gets them.

epsclient.jpg

Firstly, all the BBC Election results are driven off the Election Production System (EPS, right) being operated in Washington by the staff on the BBC Washington Results Desk along with the Interactive team running the EPS and other systems in Washington and the UK. This is the first time a single coordinated system has driven all outputs TV, Internet, Radio, etc... and it ensures that all outputs get the same information form the same source.

I've worked in the studio on election nights and the combination of adrenaline, coffee, fear of results or graphics not working and sheer exhaustion after 12 hours in a studio overnight mean it's one of the most satisfying and stressful experiences you can go through. In particular I remember being terrorised by a Floor Manager with an angry outlook on life as I kept trying to get in front of the cameras "by mistake". Anyway back to this century.

First I would recommend a review of how the BBC views elections US style. It's pretty straightforward, but there are a few surprises about how the US Electoral College works and especially how the BBC results are validated because some of the early results you will see are predictions rather than results.

OK - so you've read the background info and frankly now you know as much as me about how elections work in the US.

As results are gathered by the BBC from Associated Press and other sources, the Results Desk will use the EPS input client to view the data and make a call about the result for any state. This client is more complicated than ones we have used before and allows viewing, editing and declaring of results. The Results Desk can also use the client to send messages and prepare for results coming in, sharing their insider information with journalists across the BBC. This service (called Newswire) is a crucial part of the intelligence and reporting on the night. Everyone working on the output will be monitoring it.

What does the results desk look like? It's a forest of screens with some human beings scattered between them looking busy and stressed. A bit like a bunch of frenzied stockbrokers (below).

resultsdesk2

Take particular note of the screen in the middle with the horizontal stripes on. This is the Presenter and Producer Dashboard and is one of the elements at the heart of our coverage. As results are entered and information is shared by the Results Desk, the producers and presenters around the BBC will watch this screen to receive this information.

Once the results desk decide to publish results, then a number of things happen. The TV output generates a graphic with the results or predictions published. The results on the web update, including the maps and tickers across the site showing latest results and information. Data and calculations are made so that the TV high end graphics can analyse the results - when you see David Dimbleby and Jeremy Vine playing with their graphics, the data has all come through the EPS.

Gareth Owen who developed the Results system and is running it on the night:

This is the first time the BBC has come together to manage election results output centrally, with state-by-state winners declared directly into our system's desktop client by the team in Washington, live raw vote figures coming into our system from the AP in New York, and fast, bespoke output produced for every single BBC outlet via our systems in London"
ceefax_election.jpg

And when we say every platform we really mean it, including TV, Radio, the web, Mobile services, Interactive TV and even Ceefax (right). World Service sites in different languages and Arabic TV are also all working off the same results. The typo has never had so much potential for speedy multi-platform evil.

On the night we are hoping to cater for engagement at many levels. From simple scoreboards and tickers on the Homepage and across the BBC News site, through to detailed analysis on interactive services and TV / Radio.

An interesting development is further enhancing our live multi-stream player which was used for the Olympics. Through this, you will be able to engage with a BBC "Stream Of Consciousness" as events unfold. Multiple AV streams, results data, journalistic comment and anything else of interest will be squeezed into a vibrant page updating dynamically. You can send us comments and tell us your predictions through this as well.

The live experience around AV is something we are exploring more and more, and I hope the combination of outputs will give you all the access you desire to information about this important event.

See you on the other side...

John O'Donovan is Chief Technical Architect, FM&T Journalism.

Interesting Stuff 2008-11-03

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 13:33 UK time, Monday, 3 November 2008

I was on leave at the end of last week. As someone who has been in the middle of one of these episodes (albeit a less high profile one), everyone involved has my sympathy. Steve Bowbrick has some suggestions for how more openness might have helped, while Martin Belam thinks the BBC failed the "online Brand damage limitation test".

However according to the backstage mailing list there was some good news last week ("Matthew Postgate named BBC Controller for Research and Innovation")

People like pictures. And the graphic from Adam Hutchinson and Richard Titus' post has now been featured on blogs in French, Portugese, German and Hebrew. Y-rd says

...it completely explains my life"
.

George Wright's post about research on nonDRM BBC content stimulated discussion on the Backstage mailing list and a video interview and more information on Backstage itself.

And Backstage have started a logo competition.

Patrick Sinclair at BBC Radio Labs explains work on automatically linking artists and news on the rather wonderful BBC Music beta.

Farah Fahmy at BBCi Labs explains some of the thinking behind What's On being removed from Freeview.

Anthony Rose' s presentation on iPlayer at PDC is featured in this article from Techcrunch.and on this post from Marc My Words.

And, most importantly there may be a problem with mobile phones and national security...

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

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