Exposing the past of BBC 2.0

One follow-up to my post yesterday about the BBC’s plans for re-invention – the broadcaster has posted its complete catalogue online, which includes:

  • Details of 946,614 BBC radio & TV programmes, dating back 75 years
  • 503,193 subject categories, from Pig Farming to Pirate Radio
  • 1,182,424 contributors, from Bruce Forsyth to Imelda Marcos

This is a gigantic searchable database – there aren’t any programmes themselves online.

Writing about it yesterday, project director Tom Loosemore says:

[…] This experimental prototype is rather rough and ready. It may fall over. The search is crude. The design is basic. There are mistakes aplenty. These were conscious compromises for which I apologise. We just wanted to set free this amazing store of culture as soon as was humanly possible. We hope you enjoy it.

[…] PS For those who care about such things, every list is also an RSS feed, every entry also RDF and the terms of use allow for non-commercial re-use. Have fun.

Note Tom Loosemore‘s job title: “Project Director, BBC 2.0”.

It’s a terrific resource and, on a quick try, works well. For example, search for Charles Clarke (Home Secretary and a major part of very hot political news in the UK at the moment) and you’ll get a page with links to everything about him that the BBC has ever broadcast. The page also links to search results about him elsewhere on the BBC website and to a Wikipedia entry.

And as Tom Loosemore said, you can subscribe to a feed (Atom) of a search result so you can get updates as they’re added to the database. Very useful to complement other resources you use to track something you’re interested in.

Looks like the database was developed with Ruby on Rails. BBC 2.0 indeed.

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