« Previous | Main | Next »

Prototyping Weeknotes #97

Post categories:

Chris Lowis Chris Lowis | 15:12 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012

This week the team completed another office move. Oddly, I'm writing this week's weeknotes from the very same desk I first sat at upon joining the BBC three years ago. It's easy to say that things move slowly, easy that is until you read this week's action-packed project news round-up!


The featured project this week is FI-Content. Project producer Barbara explains: "This project is part of a large-scale two year EU research programme looking into innovative use cases for content delivery over IP. Use cases range from connected devices, personalised contextual recommendations and user-generated content to augmented reality games. They all require users to login while their data is captured and retained by the online service.

We are particularly interested in attitudes to data transparency and identifying ways to empower audiences without taking control of their data. Currently there is a lot of buzz around privacy, tracking and transparency of user data by online services and products. Once IP-enabled TVs are in every household, the same concerns over privacy will start migrating onto TV.

Initially we aim to learn about audiences attitudes towards TV activity and the best ways to present this data - looking at the right balance to avoid cognitive overload.

In order to do this we are conducting a diary study over a period of two weeks where participants will explicitly make a note of BBC TV programmes watched through an online tool we have built.

A screenshot of the diary application used in the FI-content study

A screenshot of the diary application used in the FI-content study

Subsequently, we'll run a lab trial with the same people, and present their data back to them in a browser-based dashboard we are building using the client-side technologies Knockout and d3. By presenting the data back alongside some of the benefits of data capture, such as shortcuts to programmes and recommendations, we will explore current attitudes to data collection and tracking and what controls individuals would like to have over their data.

A screenshot of the

A screenshot of the "most watched" page in the dashboard application

We are also considering the recent proposal for the new EU Data Protection Regulations and investigating how we would allow users to manage, delete and export their personal data from BBC services, and looking into W3C tracking compliance proposal which defines a do not track user preference option.

What we'll learn from our initial study with users will inform our next research phase more focused onto user data control features."

Andrew N and Dan have been busy working on the dashboard shown in these screenshots, while Vicky S has been collecting the results of the diary study that has come to a close this week.

Now for a quick round-up of our other projects:


Chris Newell has been working on a new developer-friendly recommender API which selects the best algorithm, depending on how much information is supplied. The API uses the open-source MyMedia Lite Recommender System Library developed in the MyMedia collaborative project which ended last year.

Programme List

Duncan has been setting up staging and production environments for the Programme List and notifications applications. In doing so he's encountered some tricky issues to do with the sending of email. Together with Matt he's close to sorting this out.

Roar to Explore

Vicky S met with colleagues, Matt and Penny in the North lab to plan a simple UX prototype for Roar to Explore. The aim is to understand how we can encourage children to use their voice as a controller. Meanwhile I submitted the final version of a paper I wrote with Chris Pike (of R&D's audio team) and Yves about the technical aspects of Roar to Explore to the AES Convention.


Yves had a paper accepted this week for the ESWC conference. The paper looks at ways of evaluating ontologies using lots of aggregated textual data. He co-wrote this paper with Mark Sandler from Queen Mary University.

The team also met with various senior people in World Service to talk about the first public prototype within the project. He started work on a simple application to support the initial UX work, using a Rails application on top of a triple store. Theo has started this initial UX work by building a few basic page templates. Meanwhile I've been looking at automatic segmentation of audio programmes based on their transcripts. I've been evaluating the algorithm I coded up last year against the segmentation metadata in the /programmes API.


Libby has been integrating the Beancounter UI with the backend, which harvests, with your permission, information from your social networks and creates basic statistics and recommendations from the data. The backend system has been written by our partners in the NoTube project.

Vicky B has started to analyse the first 100 responses to an online survey about the 'Social Web & TV', developed in collaboration with colleagues at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The goal is to collect opinions about the implications of integrating the Social Web with TV; including attitudes to privacy, sharing of personal data, and user control. The survey is still available to complete, so if you'd like to help out with this research please take a moment of your time to fill it in.

W3C Audio

Matt, Olivier and I met on Monday to scope a prototype which would be used to test the proposed W3C audio processing APIs. Olivier spent some time after that researching the BBC's past work in audio processing and synthesis, including the history of the BBC Radiophonic workshop.


Following our successful trip last week to the EBU to attend their RadioHack event, Sean has been tidying up the RadioTAG project code to get it ready for publication on Github.


That's all for this week. I leave you with a selection of tasty links from the team:



More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.