Scheduling Content Round the Edges – Supporting OU/BBC Co-Productions

Following the broadcast of the final episode of The Virtual Revolution, the OU/BBC co-produced history of the web, over the weekend, and the start today of the radio edit on BBC World Service, here are a few thoughts about how we might go about building further attention traps around the programme.

Firstly, additional content via Youtube playlists and a Boxee Channel – how about if we provide additional programming around the edges based on curating 3rd party content (including open educational video resources) as well as OU produced content?

Here’s a quick demo channel I set up, using the DeliTV way of doing things, and a trick I learned from @liamgh (How to build a basic RSS feed application for Boxee):

I opted for splitting up the content by programme:

Whilst the original programme is on iPlayer, we should be able to watch it on Boxee. I also created and bookmarked a Youtube playlist for each episode:

So for example, it’s easy to moderate or curate content that is posted on Youtube via a programme specific playlist.

Here’s the channel definition code:

<name>Virtual Revolution, Enhanced</name>
<description>Watch items related to the BBC/OU Virtual Revolution.</description>
<copyright>Tony Hirst</copyright>

[This needs to be saved as the file descriptor.xml in a folder named bbcRevolution in the location identified in Liam’s post… alternatively, I guess it should be possible to prescribe the content you want to appear in the channel literally, e.g. as a list of “hard coded” links to video packages? Or a safer middle way might be to host a custom defined and moderated RSS feed on the domain somewhere?]

Anyway, here’s where much of the “programming” of the channel takes place in the DeliTV implementation:

(Note that the Youtube playlist content is curated on the Youtube site using Youtube playlists, partly because there appeared to be a few pipework problems with individual Youtube videos bookmarked to delicious as I was putting the demo together!;-)

Secondly, subtitle based annotations, as demonstrated by Martin Hawksey’s Twitter backchannel as iPlayer subtitles hack. The hack describes how to create an iPlayer subtitle feed (I describe some other ways we might view “timed text” here: Twitter Powered Subtitles for BBC iPlayer Content c/o the MASHe Blog).

With The Virtual Revolution also being broadcast in a radio form on the BBC World Service, it strikes me that it could be interesting to consider how we might use timed text to supplement radio broadcasts as well, with either commentary or links, or as Martin described, using a replay of a backchannel from the original broadcast, maybe using something like a SMILtext player alongside the radio player? (Hmmm, something to try out for the next co-pro of Digital Planet maybe..?;-)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

2 thoughts on “Scheduling Content Round the Edges – Supporting OU/BBC Co-Productions”

  1. Hi Tony,

    When I started looking at extending your work one of the things I wanted to do was in-browser real-time replay of tweets. At the time I tried the javascript SMILtext player but didn’t get it to work. I’ve since managed to get it working and extended the generator to produce and replay SMILtext. I find SMILtext a little too restrictive particularly as it doesn’t recognise links ( tags). It would probably be easier just to write a new javascript based browser.

    While I was adding SMILtext I also added an option to generate SubRip (*.SRT) which are compatible with YouTube (which brings us back full circle to your original idea ;).

    SubRip is also used by, which in turn is used by boxee (from what I’ve read boxee automatically pulls subtitles directly from This might allow you to extend your boxee model further?

    As you have already suggested via twitter I think it would be useful to pull data from other sources like Twapper Keeper, while twitter is good for ‘what is happening’ it gets difficult to pull ‘what has happened’.

    Your readers can find the latest version of the tool at


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: