One BBC nature

A few weeks ago we merged Wildlife Finder into the nature site and launched a new blog – and today we’ve taken the final step and brought Earth News into the fold to create a consolidated BBC nature site.

From a certain perspective this doesn’t represent a big change – after all we’re still publishing exclusive natural history news stories, video collections and video clips and information about: animals, plants, habitats (and the ancient earth’s habitats, such as Snowball Earth), adaptations & behaviours, places and ecozones, the geological time periods when they lived, the major mass extinction events, including the one that killed the dinosaurs, in fact lots of information on the history of life on earth and the fossil record. We even have a page about fish – and they don’t really exist!

However, from another perspective this is a really big change. It’s a big change because we’ve (hopefully) made everything so much simpler.

Screen grab of the new BBC nature site - features section

We’ve made it simpler by bringing everything together into one site and removed the various sub brands – if you love nature and natural history everything is now in one place: news stories, video clips from the archive, opinion pieces and more.

Bringing everything together has also allowed us to make a few additional changes which should help us more easily publish the content.

In addition to natural history news we have a features section where we can bring together articles and photo galleries (like this one) and a new blog Wonder Monkey written by Matt Walker. Matt has written a few posts so far including this one on the oddball midge that shouldn’t exist.

I really hope you like it. It represents the culmination of two years of work, during which time we launched and evolved both the site itself and the editorial proposition – there now are c.3,000 clips available online (many of which are available worldwide) about almost 900 animals (both prehistoric and living), 50 plants etc.

And of course wildlife data is for machines too.

However, after two years of development this represents the last major release, for a while at least. The site will continue to grow because we are continuing to create great new content as well as digging out the best bits from the archive – like this video collection looking back at David Attenborough’s Madagascar (starting with Zoo Quest 50 years ago). But there won’t be any major new features for a while, not that that’s a major problem – the site should offer a rich experience with amazing content.

As I said yesterday, I’m very proud of what we’ve produced and if I can marshal my thoughts I’ll try and write a post or two about how we went about building the site and the lessons I learnt on the way, until then enjoy the site.

Leaving the BBC

Leaving the BBC

After almost five years this will be my last month at the BBC.

The BBC has been a great place to work – I’ve worked with some amazing people, helped deliver some of the best work of my career and had the opportunity to speak at conferences around the world, including (amazingly) at the Web’s 20th birthday celebrations in CERN.

The BBC can certainly be a challenging place to work but I’m very grateful to Dan Hill and Matt Wood for offering me a job in the first place. I just hope I’ve not let them down because for every challenge, gripe and frustration there have also been opportunities to learn new things, work with brilliant people and help deliver great stuff that has, I think, had an positive impact on what the BBC does online.

So what have I been up to since I’ve been here?

The first project I worked on was /programmes a site that means that every programme the BBC broadcasts now has a web presence – one that both humans and machines can enjoy. The site is sometimes criticized as being a card catalogue of BBC programme metadata but its worth remembering that until the site launched the vast majority of programmes had no URI, had no webpage of any kind; /programmes changed that at a stroke. It was also the first truly dynamic web site on bbc.co.uk and whatever people might say about the aesthetics the site has the prettiest URIs of any site I know (something to thanks Michael Smethurst for).

The music site was my other project while in the FM&T bit of Audio & Music. Building on Musicbrainz the idea was to create a rich graph, linking music programmes with artist pages (available as HTML and RDF etc.) via ‘clickable tracklistings‘.

After a couple of years I left Audio & Music and joined ‘BBC Vision’ – the bit of the the BBC that does the telly – and took on a project known internally as ‘BBC Earth‘. And pretty much tried to replicate the music work but for natural history content.

I say I tried to replicate the music work that’s not really true, or rather its only true to a point. The core underlying concepts where the same, but the manifestation is quite different. For starters we sought to digitise and make available the TV archive but we also created original content – this broke down into exclusive natural history news stories, stories from TV and Radio production teams on location and, curated video collections.

I wanted the nature site to help people discover, explore and understand the natural world through the BBC’s content, I hope we’ve achieve that to some extent. Personally, and I know I’m biased, I think the site is brilliant and one of the best looking and useful semantic web sites around (we publish the data as RDF).

The credit for the site, however, should go to the team that actually made it. I was lucky, the core of the team has remained on the project throughout its development and I’m indebted to those, more talented than me, for making it what it is.

As I’ve said, I think the site is brilliant and I think the editorial, technical and design knowledge and skills of the team shine through, the site is theirs not mine.

There’s much I could write about this work – but I should really do it a bit more justice than the space available here and so I’ll save what I have to say for another post. Also there’s one last thing to push live on the site, to round off its development and it feels wrong to preempt that.

So what now? Well I’m joining Nature Publishing Group as Head of Platform for nature.com. As a failed scientist I’m very excited by the opportunities – Nature is the leading weekly, international scientific journal with a mission to:

Helping achieve that mission on the Web is a really exciting prospect and I hope the next five years prove as productive as the last. Wish me luck.

Science ontology — take three

Paul, Michael and Silver have done a bit more work refining the nascent science ontology — unfortunately I was caught up doing something a lot less interesting so this version is all their work and not mine, and it is all the better for it.

The big change to this version is the removal of much of the publication specific stuff since this is handled elsewhere otherwise otherwise it should look like a fairly obvious evolution from the previous versions.

Version 3 of the science domain model

And here’s a N3 serialisation of the model. There’s still lots to do, it needs checking against what happens when there are multiple ranges are given for a property, we need to write proper definitions, add namespaces, look for existing ontology reuse etc.

<!-- Science Ontology - First version! Still to do: Declare namespaces Define ontology (name, author etc) Finish definitions Look for existing ontologies for reuse etc. Publish! -->

<!-- Classes -->

so:Observation a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Observation";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Hypothesis a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Hypothesis";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Experiment a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Experiment";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Equipment a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Equipment";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Method a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Method";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Collaboration a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Collaboration";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:ExperimentalObservation a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Experimental Observation";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here";
	rdfs:subClassOf so:Observation .

so:Data a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Data";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Analysis a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Analysis";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Publication a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Publication";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Theory a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Theory";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Prediction a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Prediction";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here" .

so:Agent a owl:Class;
	rdfs:label "Agent";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here"
	rdfs:subClassOf foaf:Agent .

<!-- Properties -->

so:inspiredBy a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "inspiredBy";
	rdfs:comment "definition goes here - but what happens with multiple ranges? hypotheses can be inspired by Observations, Theories and Predictions...";
	rdfs:domain so:Hypothesis;
	rdfs:range so:Observation;
	rdfs:range so:Theory;
	rdfs:range so:Prediction .

so:makes a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "makes";
	rdfs:comment "definition goes here";
	rdfs:domain so:Theory;
	rdfs:range so:Prediction .

so:tests a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "tests";
	rdfs:comment "definition goes here";
	rdfs:domain so:Experiment;
	rdfs:range so:Hypothesis .

so:equipment a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "equipment";
	rdfs:comment "Relates a piece of equipment to an experiment it is used in.";
	rdfs:domain so:Experiment;
	rdfs:range so:Equipment .

so:method a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "method";
	rdfs:comment "Relates a method to an experiment it was used in.";
	rdfs:domain so:Experiment;
	rdfs:range so:Method .

so:experimentalObservation a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "experimental observation";
	rdfs:comment "Relates an observation made as a result of an experiment to the experiment it was made in.";
	rdfs:domain so:Experiment;
	rdfs:range so:ExperimentalObservation .

so:captures a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "captures";
	rdfs:comment "Relates data to an experimental observation it was captured in.";
	rdfs:domain so:ExperimentalObservation;
	rdfs:range so:Data .

so:analyses a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "analyses";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Data .

so:published a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "published";
	rdfs:comment "Relates an Analysis to a Publication it was published in.";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Publication .

<!-- Analysis to Theory -->

so:establishes a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "establishes";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Theory .

so:validates a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "validates";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Theory .

so:modifies a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "modifies";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Theory .

so:contradicts a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "contradicts";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Theory .

<!-- Analysis to Hypothesis -->

so:supports a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "supports";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Hypothesis .

so:modifies a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "modifies";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Hypothesis .

so:disproves a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "disproves";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Analysis;
	rdfs:range so:Hypothesis .

<!-- Agent properties -->

so:proposes a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "proposes";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Hypothesis .

so:collaborates a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "collaborates";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Collaboration .

so:funds a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "funds";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Experiment .

so:performs a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "performs";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Experiment .

so:observes a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "proposes";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Observation .

so:forms a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "forms";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Analysis .

so:creates a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "creates";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Publication .

so:creditedWith a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "credited with";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Theory .

so:participates a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "participates";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Agent;
	rdfs:range so:Agent .

so:collaboratesOn a owl:ObjectProperty;
	rdfs:label "proposes";
	rdfs:comment "Definition goes here.";
	rdfs:domain so:Collaboration;
	rdfs:range so:Experiment;
	rdfs:range so:Hypothesis .

A science ontology version 2

Michael, Silver, Paul and myself have had another go at a science ontology. We’ve tried to take onboard the comments from the previous version – many thanks to those that commented.

Simple ontology to model the scientific process
Second attempt at a science ontology

A few things worth highlighting: Continue reading “A science ontology version 2”

Science ontology

Michael and I did a bit of domain modelling this afternoon – below is our first attempt at a science domain model. It’s almost certainly wrong but I quite like it and I would love to hear what you think, especially if you are a scientist!

Science ontology
First attempt at a science ontology

To give  a bit of context – the idea behind the ontology is to provide a relatively high level model to describe the scientific method so that organisations, such as the BBC, could structure their content (archive footage, news stories etc.) using the model. Continue reading “Science ontology”

Meet the relatives

It is an interesting fact that, to the best of our knowledge, all life on Earth is related, we are all part of the same family tree (yes, even arsenic munching bacteria from California). So when we looked at publishing content about Dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasties it seemed obvious, and far more useful and interesting, to extend Wildlife Finder rather than build a whole new site. And that’s just what we’ve done.

Hillis Plot

You can now watch video clips and discover BBC news stories about prehistoric life on Earth. We’ve published the best bits from TV series such as Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Beasts as well as episodes from Horizon and of course we’re also linking to relevant radio programmes and news stories. Continue reading “Meet the relatives”