Tag natural history

Opening up the BBC’s natural history archive

The BBC’s Natural History Unit is responsible for some of the BBC’s most loved TV and radio programming — unfortunately until now it’s only been accessible as part of the regular schedule or via iPlayer. I say until now because today we launched the first phase of a new project which brings clips from the best of the NHU’s programmes online.

Pages for habitats, taxa and adaptations

URIs for habitats, taxa and adaptations

Over the last few months we’ve been plundering the NHU’s archive to find the best bits — segmenting the TV programmes, tagging them (with DBpedia terms) and then aggregating them around URIs for the key concepts within the natural history domain; so that you can discover those programme segments via both the originating programme and via concepts within the natural history domain — species, habitats, adaptations and the like.

The segments/ clips ‘belong’ to their originating programme — and as a result we’ve been adding information, about a bunch of programmes from the archive, to PIPs (the underlying database behind iPlayer and /programmes). The clip pages aren’t yet linked in with their owning episode, but they will be soon.

In addition to being able to discover these clips from within the context of the programme we are also providing URIs to aggregate information around the natural history domain, that is URIs for species, habitats, adaptations and ecozones.

URIs for species such as the Bush Elephant

URIs for species such as the Bush Elephant

Our hope is that by providing highly inter-linked, URIs we can help people gain a greater understanding of the natural world. For example, by being able to see the different animals and habitats that live within different ecozones you can gain an understanding of the diversity of of life in different parts of the world; or what different animals make up the Mammal or Bird Class; or more about a particular adaptation.

Ovoviviparous - what it is, what animals do it and BBC archived content about it

Ovoviviparous - what it is, what animals do it and BBC archived content about it

Of course we are doing more than providing access to programme segments, we have also plundered our sound archive so you can hear what the different habitats and species sound like (and obviously those sounds are separately addressable), we are then aggregating content from the other ‘BBC Earth’ projectsEarth News and Out of the Wild and elsewhere on the web.

It’s not just about BBC content.

You might have noticed that the slugs for our URIs (the last bit of the URL) are the same as those used by Wikipedia and DBpedia that’s because I believe in the simple joy of webscale identifiers, you will also see that much like the BBC’s music site we are transcluding the introductory text from Wikipedia to provide background information for most things. This also means that we are creating and editing Wikipedia articles where they need improving (of course you are also more than welcome to improve upon the articles).

We are also publishing data from bunch of other organisations. Information about habitats, ecozones and species distribution is provided by WWF’s Wildfinder; the species conservation status by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species and (where available) information about why a species is at threat coming for Zoological Society of London’s EDGE of Existence programme. Finally information about a species adaptations and behaviours are provided by Animal Diversity Web.

Adopting this approach means that we are able to contribute distinctive content to the Web while at the same time helping people find what is already there.

There is a lot more we need to do, including linking in with current programmes and making everything available as RDF, JSON and for mobile devices. That’s all on it’s way but in the meantime I hope you find what’s there useful, informative and entertaining.

First steps towards a more coherent online natural history offer at the BBC

For the last five or so months I’ve been working on a new set of sites under the umbrella of “BBC Earth” — a programme of work aimed at giving everyone access to some of the best natural history content in the world. The project is made up of three complementary and interlinked projects, the first couple of which recently went live.

Out of the wild

Kakpo -- Out of the wild

The first site to go live, “Out of the Wild” aims to bring you a view on the natural world from the perspective of our crews while on location; a sort of “From our correspondent” for the natural world. The stories — a mix of short video clips, slideshows and text based stories — are all grouped around the expeditions, the people on location and the originating programmes. Our hope is that you will enjoy this more personal view of the natural world brought to you from some of the most amazing part of the world by the worlds best wildlife documentaries makers.

We then launched “Earth News” which does pretty much what is says on the tin — news about the natural world.

We’re both aggregating natural history news articles from elsewhere on the BBC news site as well as new articles (some unique) written for Earth News, such as the story of the adult king penguin which kidnapped a skua chick and then attempted to raise it.

The final part of BBC Earth will see us starting to open up the BBC archive in, what I hope, will be interesting and useful ways.

We then, of course, need to make all of this available in nice machine representation so that others can start to hack with the data.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,303 other followers

%d bloggers like this: