BBC innovation to annotate audio content

The BBC is involved in some major innovation for audio-visual content management that looks far beyond the needs of only a mainstream broadcaster.

Tom Coates writes a detailed post describing the BBC’s Annotatable Audio Project, an experimental internal-BBC-only project designed to allow you to collectively describe, segment and annotate audio in a Wikipedia-style fashion. He says: “I consider it one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on, and BBC Radio & Music Interactive one of the only places in the world where I would have been able to have done so.”

It’s not hard to see where this research is coming from. There is so much audio (and video) content out there now that finding what you specifically want, never mind being able to describe and tag that content, is rapidly becoming one of the major difficulties for anyone who listens to audio, whether that’s mainstream media broadcast recordings or podcasts. As for adding and sharing your own annotations to your favourite content, that’s not yet a practical reality:

[…] How on earth are people expected to navigate all of this content? How are they supposed to find the specific bit of audio or video that they’re looking for? And how are they supposed to discover new programmes or podcasts? And it gets more complicated than that – what if what you’re not looking for is a complete coherent half-hour programme, but a selection of pertinent clips – features on breaking news stories, elements in magazine programmes, particular performances from music shows?

In the end, the first stage in making any of these processes possible is based on the availability of information about the audio or video asset in question – metadata – at as granular a level as possible. And not only about that asset, but also about its relationship to other assets and services and other information streams that give individuals the ability to explore and investigate and assess the media they’ve uncovered.

What I find extremely interesting about this BBC project is that, while it’s mostly focused on annotatable audio for BBC programming, it looks beyond that and into user-created annotation and metadata that would let you add your own tags and descriptions to content that you and others can use, and you would also be able to edit and add tags and descriptions to content other people have created.

Indeed, just like the Wikipedia concept.

Read Tom’s post for clear and understandable explanations of the project and the real potential for what the project would enable. Includes some great screenshots. And take a look at two screencasts he’s done that show the embryonic ideas in action, in how you would edit content information and playing content.

Innovation to pay close attention to.

(Via Geek News Central.)

From Tom’s post, it’s very clear indeed that he has been a major asset to the BBC with a project like this. The BBC has now lost that asset – Tom has left for a new role at Yahoo.