Hack Day London

Tom has just announced the first Hack Day to be held in Europe. The event is a partnership between Yahoo! and BBC Backstage and will be held at Alexandra Palace over the weekend of June 16th and 17th.

The two day event will see hundreds of creatives, designers and developers come together and attempt to build some fun, cool and interesting stuff. To get everyone in the right mood for rapid prototyping, there will be a number of speaker sessions from Yahoo! and the BBC. Tristan and I will be presenting one of the sessions so you don’t need any more reason to sign up for a place! If that’s not enough for you, Tom has promised that there will be beer, pizza and a band. And all for free.

This is all really exciting. I’m proud to be a part of what is sure to be a fun and rewarding weekend! Hope to see you there.

  • 7:38 am, 12th April 2007
  • bbc, flash
  • 1 Comment

Find Listen Label

After months of internal development, we have today launched a public beta of our Annotatable Audio tool. Titled Find Listen Label, the trial will be available for the current series of the Radio 4 science programme All in the Mind which runs for 4 more weeks.

Find Listen Label

If you’re new to Annotatable Audio, here’s a brief summary of what its all about. The project is an exploration of collaborative segmentation of radio programmes. By allowing users to annotate our programmes, we are hoping to make them more navigable using simple factual descriptions and keywords. Interaction is in the form of a wiki, so anyone can create, edit and delete annotations and we hope the community will be self-moderating. Applying a wiki metaphor to time-based media has not been easy and we have had to restrict interaction to non-overlapping annotations, to simplify both the code and the user interface. At the end of this trial we hope to gain information about how people use such a tool, both through simple interaction (listening to discreet programme segments) and more advanced interaction (creating and editing aegments).

On visiting the page, you are in playback mode. You can listen to the programme by moving the playhead, clicking on segments in the timeline or by clicking the various play buttons. Editing a segment or creating a new segment requires you to be logged in (sorry, BBC policy I’m afraid) and selecting either of these actions presents you with the edit page. Here you can alter the start and end times of your segment and edit its title, description and keyword tags. As is the modern way (and so that the audio stays loaded) all of this happens in the same page.

Consuming media on-demand is becoming more prevalent and expectations are rising. Podcasts are not simply recorded radio programmes, they are a new form of content. With the volume of content available to us and information discovered through search rather than browsing, segments of programmes become more valuable but harder to find. Collecting and presenting information about programmes is vital in order for the information they hold to be more visible.

The first Annotatable Audio prototype was developed back in October 2005 and led by Tom Coates (here’s his write up of our month’s work). When I joined BBC Radio & Music interactive (cough… Audio & Music) we began working on the second phase of development which resulted in an internal wireframe trial last summer. A year after Tristan and I began on the project, we were joined by technical project manager Joti Brar and designer Sarah Challis, who is responsible for the look, interaction and even the name Find Listen Label. Without Sarah we would still be playing with wireframes.

I began working on the project as a Flash developer but during the course of development have become responsible for the entire client application. The basic architecture of which has not changed. I have tried to use Flash only where necessary which has resulted in heavy use of JavaScript to build the interface. One significant change has seen communication with the server move from within Flash to JavaScript which has its drawbacks but results in a single point of entry. I would like to go into more detail about the code, but I’ll save that for another day.

I’m really proud of what we have done and I really hope the trial is a success both technically and in terms of user experience. Those of us who have worked on it believe this is a significant step forward in on-demand listening and hope you do too.

  • 3:33 am,
  • bbc, web
  • 2 Comments

Radio 1 nominated for 2 Webbys

BBC Radio 1 has been nominated for 2 Webbys. Some might say its all down to the SMS tag cloud on the homepage… Don’t know who though.

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