Simon Thompson of BBC Research and Innovation writes:
This all started what seems an age ago. A while back, you may have read about an internal BBC event, called the 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 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.
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For some years now we've been publishing the annual Wimbledon tennis statistics to multiple platforms. Since last year, with our colleagues in FM&T Journalism, we're publishing to bbc.co.uk. For your delight, here's a peak at how this is implemented.
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Hi, so what a way to get this thing started, a real deadline, a proper event, a full on first really for the TV Platforms group, and more importantly a dreaded end to the week for me.
Yes, I've been invited to talk at the Mashed 08 event this Saturday and although it's a little daunting it's really the culmination of a lot of conservations and hard work, the downside being they're trusting on me to present it. That's my talk listed on backstage as the 2nd half of this session "How to hack the BBC's TV Services".
So what is it then, why the fuss? Well for an age now we in the TV Platforms group have looked enviously on at the opportunities afforded to our colleagues at bbc.co.uk with their Web 2.0 talk, open standards and provision for making content available to whoever wants it via the medium of the internet. Alas broadcast TV is a different beast, with its gateways controlled by media conglomerates and the entry point for creating interactive applications shrouded in niche technologies requiring expensive broadcast kit. These are not the preserve of the home hacker and until now nursing a community of interested developers has not been possible.
Things are changing though, and hopefully this change will be documented on this blog, but with the introduction of broadband enabled connections on some set-top-boxes and some incredible work by people here in the BBC we see no reason why anybody with an interest shouldn't have the opportunity to create some exciting and innovative Interactive and IPTV applications.
So if you want to read/hear more you'll have to turn up on Saturday, but if you can wait, I'll post a link to the presentation sometime next week and provide more info on how you can gain access to the toolkit that makes this possible.