January 2005 Archives

January 31, 2005

BBC Complaints site launches

Today the BBC stealth-launched the new Complaints site that had been promised in the aftermath of the Hutton Report. Officially the new process doesn't go live until tomorrow, but I'm pleased to say it took barely ten minutes from the development version being moved to the live location for the first new official complaint to roll in. If nothing else it proved the system worked end-to-end in the live environment. I can't believe the amount of incredible hard work that...
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January 28, 2005

Your own personal year zero

The was a great post on The Shifted Librarian this week proving again that the time you are born is year zero for the technology around you. Jenny had been reading a humorous [sic] article in the New Yorker about how it was a confusing and difficult time in 1992 to live in the USA because of the lack of cell phones and the internet. As she was reading the article: the kids came home and Kailee excitedly told me...
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January 25, 2005

Martin Belam presentation at IP Lezing in Amsterdam

The second leg of my recent trek across Europe took me to Amsterdam, where I had been kindly invited to speak at the annual IP Lezing arranged by Informatie Professional magazine. The theme of the day was "Taxonomie: Theorie en Toepassing", and I was speaking about "Taxonomies and classification schemas within the BBC". The conference was very well attended, with around 350 delegates - and I enjoyed meeting some really nice people, both before and after the event. There will...
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I was very pleased to see that whilst I was away the team have continued to push the creativity of the way they use the promotional space on the bbc.co.uk homepage. Last night it featured a promotion for some new online Sherlock Holmes stories on the BBC Cult site, which revolved through five images representing each of the stories, with a lovely little fade effect as the pictures changed. It is a shame that the Cult site is one area...
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January 24, 2005

Moufflon on the menu

I achieved a culinary ambition this weekend, when I discovered that the Slovakian hotel I was staying at in Bratislava had moufflon on the lunch-time menu. Moufflon are a small cross between a deer and a sheep that are indigenous to Cyprus. They were hunted to near extinction early last century, and so they are now protected by the Cypriot government in a reserve within the Troodos mountain range. I have always assumed that there must be a black market...
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January 19, 2005

A religious lesson in a taxi

I had a worrying conversation with my taxi driver to Paphos airport yesterday. I had been in the car for five or so minutes when he turned and asked me: "What religion are you?" "Sorry?", I replied "What religion are you?" "None", I answered. "Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?", he continued. "Well, my dad is Catholic, and my mum Protestant, but I am neither." "You have no God? Why?" It is actually a question that I have rarely,...
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The Daily Express on Firefox. Ish.

The Guardian recently turned over their media section to a series of essays by non-journalists about how they perceived journalism as a trade. More than one person made the point that one of the real problems with the media is that the majority of articles you read about something you know about contain a significant amount of inaccuracy and misunderstanding, which then undermines your confidence in the accuracy of everything else you read. There was a classic example of that...
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The ignorance of the Great British tourist

Experience has taught me never to under-estimate the ignorance of the British abroad, but this hit new heights on my flight over to Cyprus last week. Whilst we were busy flying over a mountainous chunk of central Europe, the otherwise sane-looking twentysomething bloke behind me turned to his partner and uttered the immortal line: "Is that the Grand Canyon?" *sigh* Still people can only absorb the information available to them. We had squeezed at the last minute onto some spare...
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January 10, 2005

Read-only currybetdotnet

At the end of next week I shall be speaking in Amsterdam at the IP Lezing, put together by Informatie Professional, where I will be covering the topic of "Taxonomies and classification schemas within the BBC". Before and after the conference I'll be having a few days holiday. That means I'll be switching off comments on the site for the duration. I'm sure my work in-box will be full enough when I get back, without having to worry about clearing...
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BBC Search on BBC News

BBC News Online today ran an article about the strange searches that we get at the BBC, particularly focussing on the query "How to fold a serviette like an elf's boot?" which inspired the promo for the article: I was wryly amused by the fact that the BBC's commitment to balance and fairness meant that the related internet links on the article were to Google and Ask Jeeves - although it did show up one of the anomolies of our...
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William Rees-Mogg in The Times on Jerry Springer and Muslims

William Rees-Mogg wrote an opinion piece on the "Jerry Springer furoreTM" in The Times today, which includes his belief that the production breaks the current law on blasphemy: The Director-General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is quoted as saying: "I'm a practising Christian but there is nothing in this I perceive to be blasphemous." As the second act shows Eve fondling Jesus's genitals, while Jesus suffers from an infantile complex and is dressed in nappies, most people would take a...
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January 9, 2005

Jerry Springer - The Aftermath

I didn't watch Jerry Springer - The Opera last night, although apparently 1.7 million people did, as I was round at someone else's house, but I've enjoyed picking through the bones of the media coverage today. There has been a hard-edged intolerance to some of the protest. According to this story in The Independent the BBC has even been forced to take legal action against Christian Voice: A BBC spokesman said: "We can confirm that lawyers acting for the BBC...
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Direct links from the BBC to DEC

On Thursday bbc.co.uk played a part in a further appeal for donations to aid the victims of the tsunami in Asia. This is the first time the main homepage promo on bbc.co.uk has carried a link through to an external organisation. Well, sort of. In fact, we didn't link directly through, but made an interstitial page that forwarded the user onto the DEC site. No doubt from the outside this seems exceptionally cautious, but I still remember a time...
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January 8, 2005

Carry On Jerry Springer

So this week the public protest against the planned BBC Two broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera has built to a crescendo - and according to the BBC's internal news service yesterday a vicar burnt his television licence during the protests outside Television Centre. Myself I'm agnostic about it*. I was walking between Covent Garden and Oxford Street on Thursday, passing the Cambridge Theatre where the play is actually on, and of course there wasn't a hint of a...
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January 6, 2005

Asia Quake Latest on the BBC Homepage

Last night we made the first "structural" change to the BBC homepage since May 2004, to incorporate a panel under the main promo that provides some semi-permanent links to information about the disaster that has befallen Asia. It came about in a strange way. I was one of the few people in the office between Christmas and New Year, and part of what I was doing in that quiet period was working on was a series of mock-ups of "What...
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January 5, 2005

Distant Shores with Peter Davidson

If you were going to take out an advert on the strip at the footer of The Guardian's front page to advertise your new 9pm drama... ...you'd probably want to spell your leading actor's name right, wouldn't you?...
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More music votes on bbc.co.uk

Most of the coverage on the BBC with the word "Asian" in it has been pretty bleak over the last week - but life goes on, and the BBC's Asian Network has this week launched a quest to find the most popular Asian film soundtracks of all time. If, like me, you are not actually au fait with many, or indeed, any, of the soundtracks listed, the voting page allows you to listen to clips from each nomination. It isn't...
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January 4, 2005

Bob Geldof is the Listener's Lord

So Bob Geldof was voted the Listener's Lord - and would even consider such a position. It was fun getting my hands dirty with data again to filter and produce the results - there was some quite hard "digital lobbeying" on behalf of a couple of the candidates ;-) In the end Geldof won by just over 1,000 - and I was pleased that this year around a third of the votes cast by the programme's listeners were done...
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