<75 years of metaBBC>

spies, originally uploaded by JamesB.

The BBC has opened up its catalogue going back to 1937. Well Done MattB and Tom. It’s a wonderful thing.

I worked in TV as a researcher/AP for the BBC between 1999 and 2002 first on Timewatch [for  a lovely bloke called Tilman Remme] and then in Current Affairs [and much later a short stint at Newsnight]. It’s great to be able to get the info. Though I don’t remember getting contributions from Hitler, Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt for this film – my favourite 😉 [methinks the ‘contributors descriptor is a little generous as it covers production staff, historical figures and interviewees]. I had 3 glorious months at the National Archives in Kew researching this one, my first job for the beeb.   Uncovering the many great stories that came out of the IIWW.  The film couldn’t do justice to the richness of what we found.   Of course there are bound to be issues with the cataloging – not least of which is that I don’t get a credit here grr… Still, you got to love those librarians.  Working diligently, without any of the glamour that most people see as a perk of working at the beeb.  They’re kinda machinic in the way they construct and adhere to strict data protocols.  I suppose in that sense they’re very high level code really.  Respect!

So the BBC is plugging into the world.   It’s all been said before but how great it is to be able to pull out and aggregate content by contributor, date, series, episode, channel etc and work that into bottom up data from other sources like wikipedia entries for shows, presenters, events. 

I see a useful application in this as a social documenting tool.  To be able to visualise the key ‘memes’ in broadcast by the BBC by year and see how that correlated with wider events.  Is the BBC a useful barometer for the zeitgeist?  Does it lead or follow?  Could be quite fascinating…