Archives for May 2012

Opening Up the Archives: Part 1 of a 6 part film about R&D and Archive Research

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Ant Miller Ant Miller | 16:30 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Three years ago now the R&D department founded a dedicated team looking at research to support the archives of the BBC.  Based around core long term projects such as PrestoPrime, the group has expanded its portfolio of active projects to cover every element of archives technology, from high performance storage platforms to advanced metadata techniques.  At the same time the BBC's own archive has been transformed by massive programmes of migration, and the ongoing evolution of the broadcast environment, not to mention an increased appreciation of the value of archives as public resources.

Here in R&D we wanted to give the story of this archive team a full showing, so we have produced a film which is in total some 45 minutes long.  Over the next six weeks we'll be releasing this work in small segments, each focussed on one element of the story, starting this week with a look at the challenges of archives.  So, please join Alex Mansfield as he introduces us to the challenge of "Opening the Archive"


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IRFS Weeknotes #109

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Pete Warren Pete Warren | 12:28 UK time, Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A bit of a wrap-up week -- and I'm not talking about clothing: phew, it's a scorcher. Chris Lowis put the finishing touches to three of the four prototypes for the Web Audio API project. Olivier spent the week catching up with the W3C Audio Working Group work and helped them process the recent onslaught of issues. Meanwhile Andrew Nicolaou was finishing the ABC-IP tagging experiment.

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Audio on the Web - Rediscovering the era of the Radiophonic Workshop

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Olivier Thereaux | 11:46 UK time, Wednesday, 23 May 2012

For the past two years, our team has been involved in the W3C audio activity, participating in an effort to bring open, standard technology to process and synthesise audio on the web.

With recent progress on draft specifications and early implementations, we felt it was time to start playing with the emerging APIs. There were already many demos showing what can be done with the now-defunct Audio Data API as well as the proposed MediaStream Processing API and Web Audio API, yet we felt there was room for us to build something which would not only help show the capabilities of these APIs, but could also feed into the standardisation work by revealing gaps in features, by gathering impressions of working on some less-used sections of the specs, and perhaps even by stretching the implementations enough to raise flags about performance.

Daphne oram blowing a Mijwiz, an Arabic reed pipe, while Richard Bird records the sound on a tape machine. BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Maida Vale, 1958


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IRFS Weeknotes #108

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Chris Godbert | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 21 May 2012

We've been doing some interesting UX research for ABC-IP (Automatic Broadcast Interlinking Project) into alternative approaches to publishing large programme archives. Making archives available online is a costly business that typically involves high degrees of curation by skilled editorial staff. As part of the ABC-IP project we're looking at whether we could publish large archives with less editorial effort by using computer processing and crowd sourcing techniques. We've been using the large World Service radio archive as a test case.

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IRFS Weeknotes #107

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George Wright George Wright | 14:37 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2012

Despite (or maybe because of) the short week, we're deep in the trenches at the moment, as some of our research draws to a close whilst other projects get almost enough clarity to start properly. Duncan continued work with the TV Whitespace project - working on streamlining the codebase, moving the demonstrator to new servers, and updating the dataset. Chris Newell has written a blog post about our client-side recommender module which we will be using to explore interactive recommender systems later in the year. And Andrew continued work on the ABC-IP tagging experiment - it's almost ready for the trial to begin - while he and others have also been working out the features that the public prototype will have.

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Client-side recommendations

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Chris Newell | 16:45 UK time, Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Most recommender systems found on the web are server-based and centralised. This suits the typical scenario where the relationship between the user and the recommender system is passive - a background process monitors their behaviour and the resulting recommendations are embedded in the user interface with little or no opportunity for immediate interaction or refinement. However, in future work for IRFS we imagine users interacting directly with recommendations, steering the recommender to suit their current mood and interests. This interaction will obviously require a lot more work from the recommender system and raises some concerns about scalability and responsiveness. To overcome these potential difficulties we've recently developed a novel client-side recommender system which is implemented in Javascript.

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IRFS Weeknotes #106

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Chris Lowis Chris Lowis | 12:48 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2012

IRFS grew in size recently when we were joined by members of the Snippets team. Snippets is an internal production tool at the BBC with a growing user base and lofty ambitions. Rob Cooper, the team's producer explains:

"Thanks to iPlayer and its equivalents, finding TV and Radio shows has never been easier. But quickly finding content within programmes is almost impossible. We think that this is one of the next big challenges for broadcasters to solve, so we¹ve been prototyping ways to make it easier for programme makers (and ultimately the public) to find bits within shows.

BBC Snippets is part of this effort and it takes a three-pronged approach to the problem. Firstly - can you use the spoken content of a show to navigate? Because the BBC subtitles everything it broadcasts we can use subtitle transcripts as a way for users to find keywords within TV shows. This technique works particularly well if users know exactly what they're looking for.

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