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Machine tagging the BBC

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Tristan Ferne | 13:00 UK time, Tuesday, 18 August 2009

I'd like to propose an experiment. If you ever publish a photograph on Flickr that features, or is otherwise related to, a BBC TV or radio programme you might think about machine tagging* it with the programme's unique identifier. First find the programme's unique PID (that's the 8 character ID you find in /programmes or iPlayer URLs; the "b00lj1nc" in https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lj1nc), then add a Flickr tag that looks like this...

bbc:programme=b00lj1nc

That's it, the photo is now machine tagged. Machines can now discover that this photo refers to this programme. This is a rather trivial example; my radio tuned to Any Questions on BBC Radio 4. If you click through and check the tags on Flickr you'll see something that looks like the machine tag above.

Any Questions, Friday evening


So it might be that you took the picture because you really enjoyed listening to something, but more interesting would be a location of a show, or pictures from when you were in the audience, or maybe you've taken a picture of something or someone that was featured in a programme...


Francisco de Miranda 1750-1816

Statue of the Venezuelan revolutionary, Francisco de Miranda, as featured on In Our Time

By machine-tagging these photos you will be helping machines connect things together and create new paths for people to find both BBC programmes and your photos. Sites like Upcoming, last.fm, Dopplr, MusicBrainz and OpenLibrary already support machine tags and are often connected to Flickr. Some people are even machine tagging sightings of threatened wildlife. An event/place/book page can then point to the machine-tagged photo page on Flickr and the photo page can point back to the event/place/book page. And, of course, it's not just photos that you can tag like this, you could machine tag your blog posts about BBC programmes or your social bookmarks or even your tweets. As an example, the BBC could use machine tags to point to your photos from our programme pages or use them to illustrate a blog post.

All these machine tags will be helping to connect and link different pools of data on the web which are currently unconnected. And that's what the web should be about - linking things.

Search Flickr for bbc:programme machine tags...


* Machine tags are specially formatted tags that people add to their photos (or other things on the web). The format of these tags (a namespace, a predicate and a value) mean that machines can work out what they refer to. Read more about machine tags here and here.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Very nice. Now can we please have a standard component so that Music Shows such as Get It On can post their playlists to last.fm.

    Look: R6 do it already, so the API must already exist...

  • Comment number 2.

    We do that for some shows like https://www.last.fm/user/bbc_6lamacq so we should be able to do it for Get It On. I shall try and find out...

  • Comment number 3.

    Whats with the blatant promotion of Pure

  • Comment number 4.

    "By machine-tagging these photos you will be helping machines connect things together and create new paths for people to find both BBC programmes and your photos."

    Wow, what a great way of targeted 'spamming', up load a load of product images and then "machine tag" them to popular programmes, web-sites or what ever!

    I don;t think the BBC has possibly thought the idea of linking to such machine tags out, even more so if one is going to use the tags to embed content from sites like Flickr, up load a legitimate photo, wait for it to be linked to (it will be a trivial task to monitor when such links have occurred) and once it has then replace the image with your spam or other unwanted content and as long as the image doesn't break Flickr's AUP/T&C Flickr won't do a think as they will be getting the extra click-throughs...

  • Comment number 5.

    @Boilerplated - agreed, that is a risk if we automatically linked out to those images so we'd probably always have a level of human moderation in there. And although spammers could replace their images, they would have to have tagged a pretty relevant image for it to have been linked in the first place which seems a little unlikely?

  • Comment number 6.

    #5. At 09:41am on 25 Aug 2009, tristanf wrote:

    "And although spammers could replace their images, they would have to have tagged a pretty relevant image for it to have been linked in the first place which seems a little unlikely?"

    Not really, and what is more, how are you going to cope with the archiving of your own web pages etc. if the external content could either change or vanish - sorry but whilst I can see why linking to this sort of 'social media' content sounds good in theory, in practise it's a time delayed bomb waiting to explode in the face of the BBC, you will have to carry on monitoring (physically checking with human eyes) all pages that carry such content in perpetuity otherwise BBC web pages could be carrying anything from the correctly sought image through image-spam to sexually graphic images - hackers will have a field-day in the future seeing who can get the BBC to embed the most outrageous content... :~(

    Oh, and who is the BBC going to know were to send the royalties for the use of someone else's intellectual work?!... ;-0

  • Comment number 7.

    I found myself thinking along similar lines to Boilerplated.

    Tweets are one thing; as far as I am aware they can not be retrospectively edited (though I believe they can be deleted or locked). But photos, videos, etc. can be edited - therefore there is always a risk.

  • Comment number 8.

    This could be a nice way to create Twitter trends for a particular programme. Unfortunately, the tag's a bit too long for Twitter. How about #bbc:pid=b00lj1nc or even just #bbc:p=b00lj1nc.

    Re: spam remarks. I've just looked on Flickr, and I can't see any way to change a photo besides tweaking it. Surely if someone uploaded a new picture, it would have a different identifier? I doubt this new toy is going to have the audience to attract spammers anyway.

  • Comment number 9.

    #5. At 09:41am on 25 Aug 2009, tristanf wrote:

    "@Boilerplated - agreed, that is a risk if we automatically linked out to those images so we'd probably always have a level of human moderation in there."

    Yes, and all the time that any such page is extant - one doesn't have look around the BBCs own blog network to hard to find comments, which have no topical relevance to the subject of the blog (or even any thread-drift) discussion, that have been added to old blogs long after the discussion ceased, some of which is blatant spam or mischief making, to see how people could miss-use 'old' web pages that have embedded content.

    "And although spammers could replace their images, they would have to have tagged a pretty relevant image for it to have been linked in the first place which seems a little unlikely?"

    The more I think about this the more I think the real problems will come from those with malicious intent (against the BBC) or those who 'hack for kicks', it's one thing relying on your own organisations security policy, AUP or T&Cs but what is being suggested here is a complete out-sourcing of such polices.

    Relying on some external web sites operational policy (as suggested by "smiler_jerg") of not allowing an existing file to be replaced by another whilst keeping the original file name is very high risk, all it requires is a change in their policy and the BBC's relevant security policy has flown clean out the window...

    I'm not against the machine tagging, I can see it being really useful for the end user (or even the BBC for internal research use etc.), it's the suggestion that someone like the BBC could then go on and use embedded content from such external sources.

  • Comment number 10.

    In april 2008 Radio 4's Broadcasting House asked its listeners to add their flickr photos of their radio to this Radio4BH flickr group https://www.flickr.com/groups/radio4bh/

    join the group (some policing may be possible here) and you are free to add your photos to the group. it worked for that programme and while it is the smallest sample of one case study there were no issues. Now a BBC meta data layer in the cloud could tag items in that group, notice who is doing the tagging, not the end user, this is not only shifting the chance of misuse but also shifting the burden of accuracy to the BBC.

    So see it as a two step approach, corral the images near the programme and BBC sweep in and tag, a bit like the googlebot indexes content, and images can be id'ed as safe or not (note not tagged safe/unsafe but detected).

    Having said all this by the time its implemented to scale we will all be able to hear 'radio through the "waves"' like google waves. Trusted islands of collaboration, listeners, corporation, programme guest, staff and the wider community. By then the two step approach becomes one step and the tagging in not auto but implied as images shared are internal.
    just my 2cent regardz brian greene

  • Comment number 11.

    Tristan:

    Thanks, for the excellent resource about tagging....

    =Dennis Junior=

 

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