While the weather continues to be unexciting, our team has been very focused on taking forward several strands of work and hoping for a better summer :-) Let's start with one of the main projects the team is "sweating" on this summer.
This week we have officially started our next phase of research work for the FI-Content project but let's first recap what has been achieved in the past month as part of our research on privacy and user data from TV consumption.
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In today's short clip from the archives documentary we look at the strategic question: what is the modern archive for? It's looking at these core fundamental questions, and how they change as we move more and more into a digital environment, that is letting the BBC archive plan a future for its holdings and its services.
Some of the more alert of our viewers may notice a slight error on Bill Thompson's caption- he works in Archive Development, not in fact in Information and Archives. Sorry about that. Only just spotted it, and the editor is on holiday this week.
Twenty-something people based in four locations, several of them often travelling. It can be quite hard pulling these weeknotes together. I'm writing these, on average, somewhere between London and Salford, sometime between Thursday and Friday. This week Yves has bravely travelled from London to Manchester, Manchester to London, London to Brussels and Brussels to Leuven (and back again, I presume). By train. In 3 days. During which he gave a talk at the Europeana plenary. Olivier had a particularly early Wednesday, calling Japan to join a W3C web and broadcasting workshop, his session was appropriately entitled "Discussion with Olivier from the BBC". He's also been prepping for a data journalism workshop. And Chris Newell and Libby were in Zurich for a project kick-off. Chris has started preparations for a trial of an experimental standalone recommender system. This will use the drag and drop interface developed by Libby from the concept that Becky will be presenting at Euro ITV 2012 and our client-side recommender engine.
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In this episode of the video looking at R&D's efforts to support the BBC archive we take a look at the need to not just address the challenges of the past, but to also ensure the future resilience of the archive. As we increasingly move content in the archive off he earlier generations of analogue and discrete digital storage, and into digital mass storage, R&D and colleagues across the BBC are developing strategies to deal with the novel problems that this new approach to storage throws up. In today's film we get to see just how complex this future platform for the archive is proving to be.
BBC R&D registered the domain name bbc.co.uk in October 1991, almost 21 years ago. It wasn’t until December 1997 that anything we would nowadays recognise as BBC Online became available from that url. It’s a core part of BBC R&D’s role within the corporation to be thinking five to ten years ahead, to be anticipating the changes in the technological landscape, and to ensure the BBC remains at the forefront of those changes.
The online landscape is set to evolve again over the next couple of years, as ICANN – the organisation that assigns and manages global top level domain names – expands the web’s suite of suffixes far beyond the traditional .com or .org. The release of domain names such as .london or .music has the potential to change the way people navigate and engage with the web.
Today ICANN reveals which brands and companies have applied for their own top level domain names. The BBC has applied for the global top level domain .bbc, and I’d like to explain our thinking behind this application.
It’s R&D’s job to consider the future impact of this increase in web addresses for online audiences. Just as we were in 1991, today we are right at the start of this process. There are three key reasons why we decided to apply for .bbc.
- Investing in the technological future of the BBC – important for us to remain at forefront of internet engineering developments, to better serve our audiences in a changing online landscape.
- Protecting and maintaining the BBC brand – as online landscape evolves, this is an important extension of the BBC’s brand protection policies.
- Potentially enhancing our relationship with online audiences – in the future the use of .bbc domains might ensure content is even easier to access and navigate for our audiences, clearly identified as coming from the BBC, or more secure and scalable.
There are clear potential benefits to a .bbc domain, both for audiences’ enjoyment of our content, and in making BBC Online fit for the future. We’re not alone in this thinking: we know Google has applied for .google and .youtube, and anticipate many more big organisations will be among those revealed this afternoon.
Now that our application is public, we look forward to the next stage of this process, as ICANN evaluates the requests. We’re still a long way from seeing a .bbc domain in the wild, but it’s interesting to consider the potential of this chapter in the evolution of the internet.
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It's been a short week and many people are away, but there's still work to report:
On FI Content, Chris Needham and Theo have been exploring the user scenarios and interactions relating to authenticating a connected TV to an online account. They feel that they have worked out a good model for this piece of work, which can be seen as similar to aspects of RadioTAG (pdf) authentication but also brings additional problems of interest.
ABC IP had its review for this quarter, where Dominic showed the contributor segmentation and identification demo, and the World Service tagging experiment - the review went very well. Yves has also been reviewing EBU documents and working a bit on a schema.org extension for TV and radio. He is also preparing his talk for the Europeana plenary in Leuven next week.
Becky and Chris Newell have been finalising a paper and a poster for the upcoming Euro ITV 2012 conference in Berlin. The paper discusses the results of a recommender system field trial using dynamic collaborative filtering, while the poster presents a novel user-controlled interface for TV recommendations. If you're at the conference do visit Becky for a chat during the poster session.
Olivier's week started with good news - the paper he wrote with Andrew Leimdorfer from the News Specials team for a workshop on data journalism and government policy modelling was accepted with very positive reviews. He and Andrew have been given a slot to speak there and he's started working on a talk. The rest of his week was dedicated to the W3C Audio work: a couple of meetings and a fairly tedious migration from one issue tracker to another.
I've been preparing for the VistaTV kickoff in Zurich next week, including helping set up the project website. Chris Newell and I are both going to attend, and we're very much looking forward to getting the project up and running. I've also been following Semtechbiz remotely, including the panel on schema.org.
My favourite quote from the conference from Jim Hendler: "#semtechbiz my take home message: https://schema.org -- the gateway drug to semantics".
In this second part of the Archive Research film we take a look at the key challenges addressed by the 'preservation' work of R&D and the BBC Information & Archives teams. With interviews from Dr Richard Wright, Adrian Williams of I&A and others, Alex Mansfield gets to the bottom of the latest technologies being used to ensure that the critical challenge of obsolescence is handled, and handled effectively and efficiency.
With huge files, and critical quality checks essential to preserving the legacy of the archive, the best efforts of engineers and archivists are being applied to saving this content for the future.
Note: Apologies for the problems on access for non-UK viewers on the last film. We think this has been cleared up, but if you've any problems do let us know in the comments below or to our twitter account, @BBCRD.
For a team looking at such ethereal things as synchronisation, metadata or privacy, our life seems to revolve a lot around a most tangible of materials: paper. Post-its and flip charts are amongst our favourite tools of course, but this week our use of paper takes us in a rather unusual direction...
Indeed, as part of our "10% time", Andrew and Chris have been building a small, internet-connected thermal printer. This was been made very easy by the fantastic instructions and architecture provided by Go Free Range.
Once their components had arrived they very quickly put together the Arduino controller and uploaded the sketch (the programme that drives the printer and allows data to be sent to it over HTTP). They then spent considerably more time trying to get it to work on the BBC's network (an infuriating maze of DHCP servers, network proxies and static IP addresses).
After printing printed their first test print they started work on their first semi-useful application. This application allows you to print out tweets from a particular user, or from a list of favourite tweets. They've been talking to our colleagues over in Radio 1 about an interesting studio application for this, and we'll share more about that (here or on twitter) when it's ready.
Printing the best of @bbcirfs tweets
Meanwhile, our two main projects have been making great progress, on paper and otherwise.
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