Recent posts in my BBC Category

January 29, 2013

What can news organisations like learn from the BBC’s approach to online voting fraud?

When systems fail and embarrass a news organisation, the temptation is always to blame the technology or the programmers. But no computer forces editors to commission content based on flawed sources.

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January 23, 2013

In “censoring” Fawlty Towers, the BBC is only following Ofcom’s lead on what viewers find unacceptable

The BBC is under fire for editing an episode of “Fawlty Towers” to remove racist language. Given the proximity of the BBC finding itself on the front pages of the tabloids for not editing a ten year old episode of the Tweenies that they had broadcast loads of times before without comment or criticism, you can see why there might have been heightened awareness of potential offence embedded in repeat showings. Especially if audience research has only recently said that this language was unacceptable when broadcast.

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January 20, 2013

Will the BBC’s Tweenies Jimmy Savile blunder usher in a new, expensive, era of ‘repeats compliance’?

The BBC’s blunder in repeating an episode of the Tweenies this morning that featured a Jimmy Savile reference will no doubt usher in a review of the controls around selecting which children’s programmes to repeat. Was it avoidable?

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October 23, 2012

I always wanted to use CEEFAX page numbers

With the ultimate demise of CEEFAX due this week, I’m reminded that I was once a passionate advocate that BBC URLs should have a re-direct mapping from CEEFAX page numbers, so that would go to the BBC Sport homepage, and would be the football homepage.

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August 7, 2012

Behind the scenes when Richard E. Grant was the Doctor

The BBC has announced that Richard E. Grant will be joining the cast of the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special. Eight years ago I blogged about his appearance as the Doctor in an online only adventure - “Scream of the Shalka”

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April 26, 2012

BBC sends more staff to Olympics than Team GB has athletes. As ever.

The BBC have said they’ll be sending an army of staff to cover the Olympic Games. Everybody will be writing about how that outnumbers British athletes. Hey, look, I’ll save you the trouble of reading today’s articles - here is the exact same story from 2010 and 2008. I daresay with a bit more research I could turn up examples from 2006 and 2004 and 2002 and so on...

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February 15, 2012

“Less is more - social media at the BBC” - Chris Hamilton at news:rewired

A couple of weeks back I was at news:rewired to talk about the Guardian’s Facebook app, as part of a panel discussing social media optimisation. Here is the first of my set of notes from the other talks making up the panel - Chris Hamilton, Social Media Editor at the BBC.

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December 2, 2011

BBC homepage redesign - behind the scenes 2002-style

The BBC has been taking a lot pf public stick for their redesign of their web homepage. Here is a quick look behind the scenes at how the design process for the page took place back in 2002.

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August 13, 2011

The BBC Twitter picture copyright storm reminds me why I’m glad I don’t answer emails for the BBC anymore

Today there has been a Twitter-storm over an email sent from the BBC to Andy Mabbett. He had complained about the BBC’s use of pictures from Twitter, and the reply he got seemed to suggest that the BBC considered anything posted via Twitter to be in “the public domain”. The response was clearly wrong, and at odds with the BBC’s own guidelines about the usage of social media. Several BBC staff responded on Twitter and in the comments on Andy’s blog post. I have some sympathy with whoever wrote that original email.

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BBC stance on Twitter pictures is at odds with their own terms and conditions

There has been quite a fuss today about a BBC response to a complaint by Andy Mabbett. It implies that the BBC believes all material posted via Twitter is copyright-free and in the public domain. This approach is at odds with their own terms & conditions of use.

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July 27, 2011

Did the BBC really “lose” 60,000 Twitter followers?

Over the last couple of days there has been loads of attention to a blog post entitled “How the BBC lost 60,000 Twitter followers to ITV” by Tom Callow on The Wall. Last night he tweeted: “TweetReach tells me tweets about my blog on the BBC's 'lost' followers reached over 1.3 million people via 1,100 tweets!”. Which is all well and it true?

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July 20, 2011

“Never miss a moment” with The Sun & Sky Sports

I absolutely adored this nifty bit of layout in The Sun yesterday. In the top-right hand corner of page 23 was “Teed off by Beeb” - an article about how golf viewers had been complaining to the BBC. Turn over to page 24 & page 25 and - lo and behold - a two page spread advert for Sky Sports headlined “Never miss a moment”...

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July 5, 2011

“Information Architects: The Secret librarians of the internet” talk at LIKE26

Last week I spoke at the 26th meeting of LIKE, the London Information and Knowledge Exchange. With the title “Information Architects: The Secret librarians of the internet”, the talk was based on both “Come as you are” and “Tags are magic!”, giving an overview of how I became an Information Architect, and some detail on how we tag up our content for the Guardian website.

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June 15, 2011

“Come as you are” - Part 2: The BBC years

This is the second part of my essay version of “Come as you are”, a talk I gave at the Polish IA Summit which looks back at my digital career and draws out what I think are the key lessons for information architects and user experience practitioners. This post looks at my time working at the BBC between 2000 and 2005.

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June 8, 2011

Do psychics now pose just as big a threat to journalistic verification skills as social media?

The “Texas mass grave” that wasn’t demonstrates that the rush to get a story on air before it has been fully verified isn’t just something that happens when news is being broken on social media.

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May 29, 2011

Paul Lewis, Alastair Dant & Jonathan Austin at the Knight-Mozilla News Innovation Jam

On Saturday I spent the day in the Guardian’s offices as a guest at the Knight-Mozilla News Innovation Jam. As a preamble to the actual brain-storming and designing, there were talks from Guardian journalist Paul Lewis, interactive technologist Alastair Dant, and the BBC’s Jonathan Austin. Here are my notes.

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May 27, 2011

"Who lets users talk the most?" - news sites & comment character counts

My curiosity was piqued by the controversy surrounding the BBC’s decision to drastically reduce the number of characters users could submit as a comment on the BBC News site to 400. And so I thought I'd carry out a quick survey of character limits across a range of UK and US news sites, and compared that with some popular blogs and social media sites.

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May 20, 2011

My notes from the BBC Social Media Summit

I spent much of today at the BBC Social Media Summit, and thought it worth putting together a few quick notes on the things that stood out for me.

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May 16, 2011

Comments and character counts: Changes to "blogs" at the BBC

I’ve written before about how one of the interesting things about social media is the ability to watch reaction unfold to design changes on other people’s services - correspondence that would previously have happened by private letter or email. This time around it is the recent changes to the BBC News blogging platform that have caught my eye. Adam Tinworth has described them as a road crash. One of the most notable changes has been reducing the maximum length of...
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April 7, 2011

Linklog special: "Come as you are" at the Polish IA Summit

This morning I gave the opening keynote talk at the Polish IA Summit in Warsaw. Here is a linklog special of some of the things I referenced in the talk.

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April 1, 2011

"UX Communities: Starting from the beginning": #7 - Physical spaces and 'outsiders'

In preparation for today’s panel session at the IA Summit about UX communities, Matthew Solle and I have been blogging our thoughts about London IA, and what has made it a success, and what has been a failure. The final two themes I wanted to address were the idea of physical spaces and community, and the necessary role of “outsiders”.

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March 24, 2011

SEO at the BBC: The early years

Yesterday I blogged some notes I’d made as The Guardian’s SEO Editorial Executive Chris Moran talked about how he went about his job in a newsroom in 2010.

It made an amusing contrast to the humble way I went about SEO for the BBC when I started there in 2000. My first job was “Registration co-ordinator”, a role I shared with the wonderful Anne Scott.

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March 22, 2011

"Neither TV station nor repurposed website" - Sky News app for the iPad

My first impressions of the Sky News app on iPad have been very positive. They’ve promised that it gives “new ways to deliver news to our users”, and it is a very different visual approach.

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March 16, 2011

BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani discusses crime statistics

Yesterday I blogged some notes from a session at the “Data and news sourcing” event which had a focus on the reporting of crime statistics. Statistician and self-confessed “semi-detached journalist” Michael Blastland opened the panel, and he was followed by Chief Constable Andrew Trotter who described accurate reporting as “A hopeless quest”. Today's post features my notes of BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani discussing crime statistics

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March 2, 2011

"Telling Stories with Data" - the BBC's Scott Byrne-Fraser at London Hacks/Hackers

Last week I was at the the latest Hacks/Hackers meet up and saw Scott Byrne-Fraser of the BBC talking about how their data visualisations and online interactives have developed.

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February 14, 2011

The great BBC website massacre - the BBC replies to criticism

There has been continued fall-out from the BBC's decision to announce the closure of nearly 200 websites. The headline grabbing figure masked the fact that a lot of the sites were already 'mothballed', and represents to my mind the destruction of some uniquely valuable online content.

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February 9, 2011

BBC Sport defends itself against accusations of selling paid SEO links on BBC Online

There has been a bit of a storm in a teacup this week over whether the BBC is selling links on the BBC Sport site, prompted by this blog post from Sam Rutley. Lewis Wiltshire, Editor of the BBC Sport site, has utterly refuted the claims. Most news organisations are a little naive about the cash value of links on their domains.

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February 2, 2011

"User research lessons from Philips, Google & the BBC" - Steve Rogers at PublicZone's user research event

On Friday I was talking at an event hosted by digital agency PublicZone, who specialise in working with not-for-profit organisations. They were launching a new booklet, "The User Research Handbook", and one of the speakers was an ex-BBC colleague, Steve Rogers, who is now Director of EMEA at Google. During the course of his talk Steve gave several examples of where user research had informed and improved design at Philips, Google and the BBC.

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January 25, 2011

The vandalism of the BBC's online history

With all the news about changes to BBC Online, the thing that had caught me eye was the deletion of lots of sites that had already been mothballed or archived in a previous round of BBC cuts. Here is why I think it is such a poor decision.

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January 6, 2011

I'll miss the hacks, but not the tiresome DRM debates - the end of BBC Backstage

As BBC Backstage closes after five years, it has produced innovation, created a community, and bored me to tears arguing about DRM.

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December 22, 2010

news:rewired - Video from the linked data and semantic web session

The BBC College of Journalism were filming all of news:rewired last week, and they've now put up all the clips from the linked data and semantic web session.

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November 29, 2010

No more ‘us and them’: How 20 years of digital comms smashed the boundaries between media & audience

This is the first of a series of blog posts based on a presentation I gave at the UK UPA's World Usability Day event in London in November 2010. The theme of World Usability Day was 'communication', and so I took the opportunity to look at how digital communication in the last twenty years has transformed the relationship between media companies and their audience. You can view the original slides, or download the whole series as a printable PDF....
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November 23, 2010

Nic Price: "Using analogy in the digital design process" at London IA

At our last London IA night, Nic Price gave an inspiring talk on how analogy could be used during the digital design process, specifically talking about how the refurbishment of London's South Bank Centre resembled the rebuilding of an intranet.

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October 27, 2010

Open and shut: Moderation and message boards on & Sky

There have been two contrasting stories of news media companies interacting with their online communities this week. On Comment is Free, the Guardian has embarked on an open discussion about the moderation in comment threads on the site. Over at Sky News, however, they have shut down their message boards, claiming that they had been 'hijacked'.

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October 21, 2010

Martin Rosenbaum talks FOI at Hacks/Hackers London meet-up

At last night's Hacks/Hackers event in London, BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum talked about what he has learned about using Freedom of Information requests as a journalistic tool.

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October 8, 2010

EuroIA bits'n'pieces

I've written quite a few blog posts already about my trip to Paris for EuroIA so far. This one is a bit of a round-up of some of the bits and pieces that didn't really merit an entire blog post all of their own, but which I nevertheless found interesting, and it features Greeks, UX Basis, Daleks, the otherwise absent BBC, and an intimidating matter of life and death...

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September 16, 2010

YouView homepage obeys Currybet's Law

The new YouView homepage obeys Currybet's Law - that the BBC can seemingly do nothing without cramming in a reference to Doctor Who.

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Archiving the user experience of the Internet: Does it matter?

Over the last couple of days I've read two blog posts that touch on the subject of archiving the digital experience of the Internet. Our failure to adequately capture what the early web was like is something that has bothered me for some time.

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September 2, 2010

Why are the UK & US so far ahead with linked data and the semantic web compared to Germany?

The first of what will no doubt be a flurry of blog posts about my trip to a datajournalism meetup in Berlin looks at one of the questions asked during the final panel session: Why do the UK and US seem to be so more advanced with linked data and the semantic web than Germany?

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September 1, 2010

Linklog special: datajournalism at The Guardian & The Observer

A special edition of the linklog, with a list of things that I mentioned in a talk about datajournalism at The Guardian & The Observer which I gave at the 1st Datajournalism Meetup in Berlin in September 2010.

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August 25, 2010

Behind the scenes at the BBC Archive

There has been a flurry of publicity recently around the BBC Archive, and so it seemed churlish not to plug my own archive material from 2005 on the topic - "People Don't Like Basements But Tapes Do" - A Tour of the BBC Film Archive at Windmill Road

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August 19, 2010

How BBC News has integrated external links into articles

Today I wanted to draw to a close an unexpectedly lengthy set of blog posts triggered by Patrick Smith's "Link to the past: why do some news sites STILL not link out in 2010?" with a look at a couple of ways that BBC News has used external links in the past.

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The BBC promises to send more traffic to external sites. Again.

With all the talk over the last couple of weeks about news sites and external links, it seemed appropriate that the BBC should come out and make yet another promise to drastically increase the amount of traffic is sending downstream. Erik Huggers' commitment follows the pattern laid out by the BBC Trust in 2008, and by the Graf review before it.

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August 4, 2010

Even in the 21st century, Sherlock still takes The Times

Given that Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes was a regular reader of The Times, it was perhaps no surprise that the news website that the 21st century BBC Sherlock was using looked more than a little familiar.

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July 30, 2010

Sherlock rebooted online as well as on screen

The BBC's new series 'Sherlock' has some interesting online activity associated with it, as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have not just arrived on screen in the 21st century, they have 21st century websites too.

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July 29, 2010

Mediatique's BBC Trust research raises more questions about the lack of a BBC iPhone app Public Value Test

Without wanting to become a single subject blog this week, I wanted to return to the topic of the BBC Trust decision not to carry out a full Public Value Test into the BBC's entry into the smartphone apps market. One thing I will give the Trust praise for is, that like the Governors before them, they make their research documents public. I've had a little time to study the report they commissioned from Mediatique, and I wanted to pick up on a few points it contained.

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July 26, 2010

BBC BASIC Breakfast

BBC Breakfast gave me a laugh out loud moment this morning, when as part of a package about 'cyber-crime', they had an Executive Director from the Open University typing in everybody's first BASIC program into a vintage computer.

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Should the BBC have entered the iTunes store without a full Public Value Test?

Last week the BBC Trust gave permission for the BBC to launch applications into the iTunes store. As someone who has worked on The Guardian's competing iPhone app, and given the fragile state of the news industry business model, I couldn't help but be disappointed that the BBC Trust did not put the proposal through a full Public Value Test.

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July 20, 2010

Could the BBC News redesign be the saviour of newspapers?

In amongst the criticisms of the new BBC News website, there are several people suggesting that the new design is tempting them to start buying a physical newspaper again. Could the BBC News redesign be the saviour of newspapers?

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July 14, 2010

BBC News redesign: Watching the feedback in real-time

Watching feedback to today's redesign of the BBC News website is another example of how the real-time web is speeding up and changing the product development lifecycle.

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July 7, 2010

5 years on - how the BBC homepage covered the 7/7 London bombings

When suicide bombers attacked the London Underground 5 years ago, I was in charge of the technical delivery of the BBC homepage. During the course of the day I kept a record of how the page was used to convey information to Londoners, setting record levels of streaming media usage in the process.

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June 8, 2010

The two-sides of Wikipedia

Whilst it can be a great tool for finding out information that organisations have embargoed in order to co-ordinate press launches, over-zealous 'speedy deletion' of band articles on Wikipedia is harming the linked data ecosystem.

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May 7, 2010

News, sport, weather, TV, radio - comments on my recent post about the BBC's global navigation

My recent blog post about changes to the BBC's global navigation scheme has generated some interesting comments from people involved in various stages of the website's design throughout the noughties.

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May 5, 2010

The digital general election - online design slideshow and video

During the course of the election campaign I've been making a gallery of screenshots of online news coverage, with a particular focus on the design of interactive tools and maps. I've put them together into a Flickr set, and made a short video compilation of them.

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April 26, 2010

News, sport, weather, TV & radio - sensible BBC global navigation at last

After a decade experimenting with different ways of categorising BBC content on the web, it looks as if BBC Online has finally come round to what user testing was telling them all along - that news, sport, weather, TV and radio are the five main categories users expect to find on the BBC's website.

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March 30, 2010

Why the BBC Trust simply had to examine the BBC's iPhone plans

The decision of the BBC Trust to examine whether the BBC's iPhone application plans need further regulatory oversight is the right one, and the only that could have been made.

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Doctor Who and Britain, yes. Sarah Jane and London, no. The mystery of what makes a BBC top-level 'site'...

The BBC has announced it will close half of BBC Online's top level sites - but the list published yesterday has only caused confusion about what actually constitutes a top level site in the eyes of the Corporation.

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March 24, 2010

5 women who have inspired and influenced my career in technology - Ada Lovelace day post

For Ada Lovelace day, I've blogged about 5 women who have inspired and influenced my career in technology, and to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude.

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March 11, 2010

The Winter Olympics online review: Part 5 - Austrian coverage

The fifth part of this series looking at online newspaper coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics is an overview of some of the features that appeared in the Austrian press before the games got underway.

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March 10, 2010

Whatever Paul Waugh thinks, The Guardian's MPs Expenses crowd-sourcing experiment was no "total failure"

In describing The Guardian's MPs Expenses crowd-sourcing experiment as a "total failure", the Evening Standard's Paul Waugh gives us a glimpse of one of the reasons the traditional media industry finds it hard to innovate with technology.

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