September 2005 Archives

September 29, 2005

Aqute Research on BBC Online

The BBC is beginning to leverage, in some ways clumsily, in other ways brilliantly, the aspects of the internet that make it into a development platform, namely user-generated content, and content APIs. Aqute have been writing a series of posts looking at the BBC from the outside and trying to understand the current online strategy. Part Three focused on "what trends in the Internet industry are relevant to the BBC?", and although the article sub-divided it into three types, essentially...
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Nighty Night on the BBC Homepage

Throughout the course of this year we have been trying out some different things on the BBC homepage, from full-screen promotions to special treatments to external web links. This week the homepage carried a promotion for something rather more adult than the norm. It's sick, it's twisted, it's very funny. Dare you brave the dark and bizarre world of Nighty Night? On Tuesday night the page promoted the BBC Three comedy "Nighty Night". Our normal editorial policy is that everything...
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September 28, 2005

Watching The Premiership From Afar

There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of weeks about whether the Premiership has become boring now that the title has effectively been purchased by one of Russia's energy oligarchs, and why attendances have fallen. The press have been focussing on the price of tickets, the perceived entertainment value, and the number of matches on television. I've not seen anywhere in the debate though the rise of viewing the Premiership on a Saturday afternoon via international...
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The Best Of The Best Woman's Hour Vote on BBC Radio Four

We've been running another literary vote for Radio 4 over this week, for the Woman's Hour programme. The "Best Of The Best" vote is to determine the best work of Woman's Fiction from the ten Orange prize winners in the decade since the prize was first awarded. The vote closes on Friday, and the results of the public vote will be broadcast on Monday October 3rd. A panel will announce the official winner the same evening. It hasn't generated nearly...
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Stars In Fast Cars Gets The Red Card From The Guardian

I noticed a design tweak in the way the football results are printed in the new look theguardian which really takes advantage of their all-colour printing. Players who have received red or yellow cards during a game now have a little coloured icon after their name in the team listings. It was really useful, and immediately made me want to look-up and read how Preston had ended up with nine men, and Lincoln City ended up with only eight. The...
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September 26, 2005

New User-Generated Content for BBC News

There hasn't been much of a pick-up on this in the trade press or blogs, but last week BBC News let slip that they were shortly going to be introducing a new type of user-generated content on the site. Jemima Kiss carried the story for Online Journalism News, quoting widely from a presentation by project manager and all-round top bloke Daniel Mermelstein. "The BBC has a dirty little secret: the vast majority of comments are never even looked at, "...
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September 25, 2005

More Of My Stuff On eBay

A whole new slew of my possessions are making their way out of our house on the eBay highway of life. Today I've posted several signed items for sale, including a signed copy of David Sylvian's first album "Brilliant Trees", and a signed copy of Depeche Mode's "Black Celebration" album. To buy the latter I actually bunked off school in order to queue outside the Oxford Street branch of HMV to get one of 500 signed copies that were available...
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September 22, 2005

Stuart Pearce For England

I talk it all back, clearly Stuart Pearce is already qualified to be the next England manager, after all, last night he managed to get his team knocked out on penalties against unfancied opposition :-)...
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September 20, 2005

The Guardian Redesign - My Tuppence

So after more than a week of published issues I feel qualified to become the gazillianth blogger to comment on the remake/remodel of The Guardian. (In fact I am given to understand that last week more people wrote blog posts about theguardian's redesign than took part in the fuel protests). My interest of course is mainly how the print version reflects the internet. It does it loads. Not least on the front page where the teasers at the bottom of...
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Fawlty Towers At BBC Homepage Towers

Yesterday the BBC homepage had a great promo to highlight the 30th anniversary of Fawlty Towers. I really liked the way the focus of the image changed to switch around the lead characters, and the links changed accordingly, offering relationship advice, support for people being bullied at work, tips on how to look after a pet rat and, most importantly, instructions on how to make a Waldorf salad. It was just a shame the background of the image used the...
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Open Mic On Five Live

It is one of my favourite nights of the year - open mic night on Radio Five Live's Sport on Five. They are covering what would otherwise be a non-descript evening of early round Carling Cup football with 21 reporters at 21 grounds. A couple are ex-footballers making their journalistic debut, there is a chance to hear some of the BBC's regional sports reporters, and Steve Claridge is on as well. Currently one reporter is actually in with the Bournemouth...
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September 19, 2005

The BBC In The Product Placement Spotlight

The BBC featured in a lot of media headlines over the weekend - and it is never likely to be good when you become the story rather than report the story. Firstly it was journalists reporting that allegedly a media mogul said that allegedly a world leader said something or other about the BBC's impartiality when talking about the USA recently. The second story concerned the issue of product placement within BBC programmes, following a sting operation exposé featuring a...
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It's Not The Disability That Is The Problem, It's The Sex

The temporary statue of Alison Lapper in Trafalgar Square has generated plenty of comment, but this item in the Londoner's Diary in tonight's Evening Standard particularly caught my eye - "Monumental Row". It quotes David Whiting who felt his war-hero stepfather should be on display in the square as saying: I have nothing against Alison Lapper and certainly nothing against disabled people However he goes on to say: That a naked woman should be filling the empty plinth in Trafalgar...
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Buy More Of My Stuff

I've put a second and third batch of items up for sale on eBay. I've moved into shifting some of my music related items. There's an item from my toy keyboad collection, the Monty Python 6 CD set, and a Depeche Mode tour programme from 1987. One of the bigger items to go though is my vintage Roland TR-606 Drum Machine. It is a wrench to part with that, as it has appeared on many an m-orchestra track - but...
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September 18, 2005

Queens Park Rangers 0 Leeds United 1

When I am sitting at my desk at work I only have to turn my head to the right and I can see the floodlights of Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road ground behind the White City estate. Yesterday I actually went there to watch Leeds United versus QPR. I found my regular commute to be much more pleasant when I knew work wasn't waiting for me at the end, although on a Saturday lunchtime if anything it seemed a bit...
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Using WAP To Collect Phone Votes

Chris Evans, now the less famous one in his ex-marriage, has been back in the spotlight as he threatens to return to TV. He also has been working on a new show for BBC Radio Two. During the course of this weekend's show listeners were urged to vote on a question, and they could do so online, or via WAP. We are using our existing online voting application, but with some new WAP templates to allow us to integrate the...
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September 16, 2005

Bee Poo At The Beeb

This week the BBC Homepage received probably my favourite email in all the time I've been attached to it. Someone claiming to be a four year-old used the Contact Us link on the homepage to write in to the BBC with the following query: How do bees poo and what does it look like? Now you may think why would you mail the BBC about that? Except that today I was sitting in the audience waiting for a presentation about...
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Flash Video Demo at the BBC's Digilab

At the BBC we have a small unit called Digilab which looks at emerging technologies in the broadcast sphere, and they often invite guests and companies in to give presentations to staff about new products and technologies. Euan is one of the key players there, and has done a lot to drive the uptake of social software within the BBC itself. Today they had a presentation team in from Macromedia talking about Flash 8, and more specifically about the video...
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England Soccer World Cup Bid

Soccer World Cup Bid? Soccer??? Has the Evening Standard transformed itself into the local paper for London, Texas?...
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Buy My Stuff

I'm (hopefully) clearing out a load of stuff from my house on ebay over the next few weeks - the first things went on sale last night. This batch includes some Doctor Who books (natch), my signed Nick Cave "And The Ass Saw the Angel" novel, a wooden promo box set for Talk Talk's amazing "Laughing Stock" album, and my Beginner's Computer Handbook. How can you resist a book promising that secretly on the inside of computers there are robots...
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September 15, 2005

Depeche Mode Bundle Ticket Access With iTunes Downloads

This week Depeche Mode announced a first, which was that people who download their forthcoming album from iTunes in the USA will also get a password that entitles them to get advanced priority booking for the U.S. tour. It's an interesting idea, that encourages loyal fans to take the digital route (the album additionally has a 'bonus' iTunes only track) thus saving physical distribution costs, and is an example of the industry trying to use a carrot to encourage legal...
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September 14, 2005

More Ashes On The BBC Homepage

Yesterday the BBC Homepage continued with our experimental coverage of the Ashes - this time not for the match, but for the victory parade through London. Using our "Big Yellow Button" - named after the BBC Sport branding - from 11am we had an updating feed of the sports news straight from the BBC Sport site in the main promo area. That meant we got a constant stream of updating photographs during the day.   Prior to that the 'Jumbo...
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So How Does The EU Breaking Football TV Rights Monopolies Benefit Me?

There has been much talk in the press over the last few days about the EU rippling muscles and threatening BSkyB's monopoly on Premiership television rights in the UK. The thing is I understand how monopolies were historically used by royalty to generate revenue, and have gradually come to be seen as a terrible evil in a free market economy. I also understand that competition for services drives up efficiency and drives down prices. However, I still fail to see...
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A Public Appeal About Public Photos

If you've never visited my colleague and friend's Eyedropper blog, then you should do. It gives a different perspective on the production of the BBC homepage from the one you get from me - Webby is much closer to the day-to-day production than I am. He can also be quite provocative at times. Currently following a comment piece in the BJP, his letter in response, and the response to his letter by Barry Beattie, he posts: here's what I'm planning...
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September 13, 2005

Panic On The Streets Of London

As I got home this evening panic buying of petrol in Walthamstow had begun.    As a non-driver myself I can't tell you whether it was the threat of the £1 litre, upcoming blockades that are not apparently happening, the fear that American oil consumption would leap following Hurricane Katrina, or that fact that two of our national newspapers today said "Please don't panic buy" that started it off. I do know two things for certain though: 1) Not one...
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September 12, 2005

The Ashes Come Home On The BBC Homepage

Throughout the course of the final Ashes Test Match the BBC homepage has been experimenting with importing the cricket coverage from BBC Sport into the main promotional space. The usual approach for an event like this is to pick one image treatment, choose five links, and run with it for the course of an event. Whilst this works fine building up to the 90 minutes of a football match, it doesn't really do the trick for a five-day game. Using...
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September 11, 2005

The College Arms Re-Opens

So tonight I was at the re-opening party for my local pub - The College Arms. It has been shut for over a month for refurbishment. The doors re-opened on Tuesday (when I naturally checked it out), but tonight was the big event, with a band and free food. (The band finished their main set with a version of American Pie - co-incidentally on Thursday I had read a very detailed exposition of the frankly over-complicated lyrics of the song)...
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Behind The Scenes At Tower Bridge

Working at the BBC I take it for granted that I can occasionally show people around the studios at Television Centre, or into the Blue Peter garden, or to look around the home of the World Service. It is only when someone returns the favour that I remember how exciting that all can be. I got a chance to remind myself of that this weekend when my wife was able to take me and the in-laws behind the scenes at...
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September 8, 2005

Haunted Walthamstow and Chingford

Followers of this site will know that my wife and I are no strangers to traipsing around bits of London looking for the locations of alleged hauntings - in fact currybetdotnet even has a Ghost Walks category. In all these trips though we have never investigated the haunted heritage of where we live and where I was born - Waltham Forest. So finding ourselves at a loss for somewhere exotic to stay over the bank holiday weekend, and wanting to...
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Apocalypse Sven

I haven't seen the papers this morning (no BBC News Online front pages to look at either) but I'm sure they will make for grim reading for one particular Swede after last night's England defeat by Northern Ireland. In the interests of balance and fairness I thought I'd point out a couple of slightly more cheering facts: Between Healy's goal in Belfast and Zurawski's goal in Chorzow, England played 566 minutes of World Cup football without conceding a goal The...
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September 7, 2005

Government Drops E-Voting Plans: U-Turn or Sensible Policy Change?

So yesterday it was stealthily announced that the Government was not going to be looking for new e-voting initiatives for next year's council elections. In their news item/press release about the story the Conservatives cite some figures from a survey carried out earlier this year: A survey conducted by MORI in March, commissioned by IT consultancy Detica, found that 54 per cent of the public think postal voting has made it 'easier to commit election fraud'. An even higher proportion...
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Greatest Painting Result In Print

The broadsheets and ex-broadsheets were writing plenty of column inches yesterday about the outcome of The Greatest Painting In Britain Vote. Nigel Reynolds' article in The Telegraph was pleased at the Britishness of it all: The competition was not confined to British paintings. Any work of any nationality in a British gallery open to the public was eligible. But it was satisfying that at the final count it came down to a fight between the two giants of English painting...
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"Citizen Journalist" Photo On The Standard's Front Page

I'm quick enough to criticise the Evening Standard when I disagree with it, but I thought for a bit of balance I ought to give praise when it is due. The Standard yesterday did a great job in getting Wasim Maqsood's photographs of an incident on the Central Line onto the front page so quickly. The article goes on to use Maqsood as the main source: Mr Maqsood, a photographer, who took pictures as the police arrived, said he had...
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September 5, 2005

Turner Prize - The Greatest Painting In Britain Vote Result

Yesterday, after watching the finish of the Tour Of Britain, I popped into The National Gallery. It reminded me that you can end up taking it for granted that the majority of our galleries and museums in the UK are free, for if they had been charging admission there is no way I would have paid to just visit for half-an-hour or so. I was actually in search not of a painting, but of an interactive kiosk. Apparently they had...
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Echoes Of Points Of View Make Guardian Cartoon

Today's Guardian Media section has a cartoon - Media Tarts by Birch - which lampoons the BBC over the programme "Bring Your Husband To Heel" Can it be a coincidence that the consensus of the viewers is claimed to be "sexist, degrading drivel" - the exact same phrase that was quoted by both BBC News and in the Evening Standard, and that was lifted from this post on the Points of View message board?...
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September 4, 2005

Tour Of Britain Stage 6 - London

This afternoon I headed in to town to watch the sixth and final stage of this year's Tour Of Britain race. It isn't, to be honest, a massive event in the cycling calender, since it clashes with the more prestigious Vuelta a España, but top teams like CSC and T-Mobile still had a presence today. The stage was a circular route running along Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square, before turning towards the Thames, hanging a right along the Embankment, and then...
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Go Austria! What's that? Poland Have Scored?

Yesterday I spent an entertaining afternoon in the pub watching three World Cup Qualifying matches exclusive to Sky Sports. The BBC gets a lot of complaints every time England play and there isn't coverage on BBC One - although I can guarantee on Wednesday night when the Northern Ireland - England match is on BBC One, we'll get a lot of complaints from people who think there is too much football on television. Anyway, yesterday for the third match, Poland...
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Last Chance To Vote For Britain's Greatest Painting

Today is your last chance to vote for the Today programme's Greatest Painting in Britain, the result of which is due to be announced on air around 8am tomorrow. The number of online votes we have received so far has been staggering - over twice as many as we've ever had for any vote for which my team are collating the results. In case you are still unsure who to vote for, the BBC homepage is today rotating through the...
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September 1, 2005

Pushing RSS Technology At The Mainstream Audience

I spent a fascinating evening tonight watching some user-testing for one of the projects that I am currently working on. I love observing user-testing - I think it is one of the most valuable exercises a web producer can do, and I think the jolt needs to repeated periodically to keep reminding you that not everybody uses the web the same way that you, or your peers, do. Whilst I'm not yet able to talk about the project we were...
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Someone Gets Their Point Of View In Print

I posted yesterday about BBC News using comments from the Points of View messageboard in an article. Well this evening The London Evening Standard picked up the story and used one of the same quotes in an article on page 3. BBC brought to heel over 'sexist' show The BBC has apologised over the programme Bring Your Husband To Heel after complaints it was sexist towards men. The BBC 2 show featured dog trainer Annie Clayton teaching women how to...
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Yahoo! Using Flickr To Supplement News Coverage

Via the ever vigilant Zawodny Linklog I see that Yahoo! were using the Flickr tag for hurricanekatrina as a related link in their news coverage. In a great example of a reciprocal feedback loop, the screengrab of Yahoo! doing this was then posted to Flickr by natekoechley. In his description he wrote: As Flickr fans know, Flickr can be a fantastic source of current events coverage. User-generated content is powerful and relevant. This is the first time I remember seeing...
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