Olympic Medal Table Map

Every four years, I get blown away by the dedication of people who have spent the previous four years focussed on their Olympic Challenge (I find it hard to focus for more than an hour or two on any one thing!)

Anyway, I was intrigued to see this post on Google Maps Mania yesterday – Olympic Heat Maps – that displayed the Olympics medal table in the form of a heat map, along with several variants (medal tallies normalised against population, or GDP, for example).

The maps were neat, but static – they’d been derived by cutting and pasting a snapshot of a medals table into a Google spreadsheet, and then creating a Heat Map widget using the data…

Hmmm… ;-)

So I had a look round for a ‘live’ data source for the medals table, didn’t find anything obvious, so looked for a widget that might be pulling on a hidden data source somewhere… Whereupon I found a reference to a WordPress Olympic Medal Tally widget

A quick peek at the code shows the widget pulling on a data feed from the 08:08:08 Olympics blog, so I ‘borrowed’ the feed and some of the widget code to produce a simple HTML table containing the ISO country codes that the Google Heat Map widget requires, linked to it from a Google Spreadsheet (Google Spreadsheets Lets You Import Online Data) and created a live Olympic medal table map (top 10).

If you want to use the heat map as an iGoogle widget, here it is: Olympic Medal Table Map Widget.

Google Insights for Search (on Youtube too…)

It seems that Google opened up a supercharged variant of Google Trends over the last week or two: Google Insights for Search.

One useful feature the new service offers over the original trends service is the ability to compare the relative volumes for the same search term over several different time periods:

It’s also possible to get a breakdown by geography, or, as with Google Trends, compare volumes for different search terms.

Along with search volume trends, you also get insight into the geographical distribution of where searches are originating from (though this sort of view is always subject to interpretation!), and maybe more interestingly, related search terms and “rising searches” – that is, search phrases that have increased in volume over the specified period.

The URLs appear to be hackable/bookmarkable, too, which means that I can also bookmark them in Trendspotting (which I really need to tinker with on the templates front, at least to display inline graphs on the most recent entry, and maybe offer a preview link, too…).

I have to admit I probably wouldnlt have posted about this were it not for the fact that some of the insight views have also appeared on Youtube, at least for personally uploaded videos:

And here are the views…

Viewing by geography:

Relative popularity by geographical region:

How people came to view the movie… (i.e. “discovery”):

And finally, viewer demographics:

It’ll be interesting to see where Google go with their data products; as well as Google Insights for Search (and Google Trends), there’s also Google Analytics, Feedburner (which hasn’t yet been integrated into Blogspot – which is lacking on any stats/data tools, I think?) and Google Webmaster tools.

(There are also tools relating to Adsense/Adwords as well, of course, including this one I just found – a keyword recommender for a given URL: Google Adwords: Keyword Tool.)

And then, of course, there are all the Google visualisation widgets that are starting to appear for Google Spreadsheets, as well as around the Google visualisation API

Embedding Youtube Videos on the BBC Website

Although I managed to get third party Youtube movies embedded in an online OU course earlier this year, mentioning the use of embedded Youtube resources in our course materials still causes moments of tension in course team meetings (“what about the rights?”, “can we trust the video will stay at that URL?” and so on), so I keep an eye out for the appearance of embedded Youtube movies on other sites that I can use as examples of how other publishers are happy to make use of embedded resources from other sites…

…like this one for example – embedded Youtube music videos on the bbc.co.uk domain:

:-)

The End of Linear TV Schedules?

Just back from a proper holiday (i.e. off the interweb), though still on a sort of holiday, so here’s a quick rag tag of a post, to follow on from the previous BBC dominated post, with a couple more BBC related things that caught my eye when in catch-up mode earlier today…

First up, it seems that someone’s picking at the linear schedule scab and looking for new ways to promote cross-channel content: When’s the sailing on? Introducing genre schedules….

The schedules can be accessed in a variety of formats (HTML, XML, JSON, iCal, etc) and also “by genre, by channel” (e.g. allowing you to tunnel into drama on Radio 4, for example) using an oh so lovely, hackable URL format – check out Tom Scott’s linked to post above for more info…

I’d say that was a “notable” step, but then, I’m not much of a media pundit…

I fired off the obligatory email to OBU/open2, of course, asking whether we’d be able to get something like this URL working:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/genres/learning/openuniversity/schedules/

so it’ll be interesting to see whether our agreement with the beeb goes so far as to allow OU co-pros to be defined as a genre in their own right!

What else was there…? Oh yes, this was interesting: Martin Belam spotted that the Beeb are experimenting with ‘in-line text links’ (BBC News in-line text links trial out in the wild).

I’ve been arguing for ages that we should be using the rather sleeker lightbox progressive enhancement for certain sorts of links, such as links to ‘optional’ Youtube videos, within our course materials… I guess I really should try to make a formal case, identifying the conditions under which we might want to open a link in an ‘overlayed’ frame, rather than the same window or a new tab, but that’s always for another day…! (That said, I have been using the approach “informally – e.g. follow the “Cheswick/Burch Map of the Internet” link on this page….

And finally, I’ve been dipping in and out of a report from Ofcom on The Communications Market 2008 (August) all day, and learning all sorts of interesting stuff, as well as finding little bits of evidence for stuff I’ve heard spoken of elsewhere…

Like this for example – a stat showing how TV fails to completely hold anyone’s attention any more!

(I’ll pull out some more graphs in a later post…)

And finally, finally, for anyone who still thinks that 360 plays are not the way forward, you should probably check out the Britain from Above website first…
Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’d love to have seen a general interest short course pulled together around this programme, but I don’t think it was a co-pro…. (err, “so what?”, maybe????)

Embedding BBC iPlayer Music Videos – Foals

Having a quick look at the new BBC Music and BBC Artist pages that have been getting a lot of mentions this week, I noticed (again?!) that it’s possible to officially embed at least some iPlayer videos now:

So for example, here’s clip of Foals from the BBC Introducing stage at the Bestival last year (I was there, they rocked…. totally…)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I have to admit, though, that I suspect that if anyone at Ofcom has a visionary moment about the potential of a BBC backed iPlayer, in the context of all the other BBC web content that’s available (including increasing amounts of semantic/linked data, they’re going to come down on the Beeb like a tonne of bricks – though it may be too late by then…

Anyway, if you’re not keeping up with iPlayer plays, here’s a good round up: BBC iPlayer 2.0: Links Roundup.

And if you’re into music, here’s another take on how the beeb sees music on the web: Sound Index. At the moment, the Sound Index artist pages don’t appear to match the BBC music artist pages (e.g. Foals (BBC Sound Index) and Foals (BBC Music, Artist pages, beta), nor does Sound Index use the MusicBrainz artist identifier that the Artist pages do in the URL, but maybe these services will merge in the near future?

If I was in the music biz, particularly the “360” music biz where merchandise and sales around the music (and artist profile/fan pages) is arguably more lucrative than music sales themselves, I’d be getting twitchy… (no ads or clicks-to-buy on the BBC…)

PS I’m going to be offline for a week or two, taking a bit of holiday, and catching up on some reading that’ll probably include BBC Trust – PwC Study into the economic impact of the BBC on the UK, Scoring Points and Making Money!

New OU Channel(s) on Youtube

So it seems like the revamped OU presence Youtube has gone live, with three channels (at the mo) and maybe another one to come if I read the greyed out Research icon right?

(Laura has the low down on the launch here: OU launch YouTube site.)

The main channel – which I guess establishes the ou view brand – appears to be home to ads and TV trails, and based on the old content that’s there is currently just a reskinning of the original OU presence on Youtube.

More exciting are the two new channels…. Firstly, OU Life, a video box for students and staff to talk about their relationship with the OU:

As well as student voices, there are some staff voices in there too…

What’s interesting about these movies is the way that secondary videos are linked to from the talking head videos – so you can easily view the videos that are being talked about as examples ‘learning content’ on Youtube. Click through on the above movie and you’ll see what I mean…

It’s interesting to note how the branding carries through to the about box on each video page… and the fluid ident at the end of each clip is really quite beautiful:-)

The second new area (again with its own colour theme) is OU Learn, a collection of movies from OU course materials.

Some of the content has been organised in playlists, which could be handy…

Again the branding carries through to the video splash page, and it’s good to see the use of course code tags that could well support some automated mashup magic somewhere down the line…;-)

One thing I can’t see offhand are license terms and conditions – is the material up for remix under a CC license or not, for example? Whatever the case, the material all seems to be embeddable:-)

For any OU staff readers interested in getting their view, or other video content, onto the OU view pages, there’s some handy advice on the intranet: Online Services Intranet > Web2.0: Youtube. (When I get back from holiday, I’ll go through the material that’s there and post what I can…)

I’m not sure about the extent to which the OU Youtube and iTunes content is either duplicated or exclusive to each site? (Or maybe content will be pushed to each site in parallel?) But there’s an info page about the iTunesU strategy on the intranet site too, so I’ll try to work out to what extent the two initiatives complement each other…

Wanted: 17-24 yr olds…

Yesterday (err, Tuesday) I took part in a very enjoyable OU/BBC brainstorming session on “multiplatform ideas for a younger audience (17-24 yr olds)…as a new way of working for the future”.

(I asked: multiplatform is pretty much everything that is not “linear TV”, where “linear TV” is, err, scheduled, traditionally delivered (and scheduled) TV content, I think…?! I’m not sure if it’s still linear if you’ve timeshifted it or are watching it through iPlayer, though… err…? Web stuff, events, and so on are all classed as ‘multiplatform’.)

The session involved several time constrained (15 minute or so) sessions on set topics, in three groups of 8 so, with sharing back to the other groups after each session.

A particularly entertaining part of the session was a pop quiz/bar quiz on what the kids are into…(even with the BBC Controller of Knowledge on our table, we still didn’t win…!)

It struck me that the day beforwe the w/s I should have trawled the web to find out some of this stuf…

For example, the most popular channels are the ones that most people can get with the most popular soaps (and also follow the BARB reported trends), the most popular websites are guessable, (search, IM, social networking, a surprising one, online videos), big event shows are popular (as you can work out by looking back over BARB weekly viewing – the demographic probably skews things but just use a bit of nous when deciding whether it’s your dad or your daughter who’s likely to be watching…), most kids have a mobile phone, most of them send umpteen text messages a day, hardly any of them ever look at a newspaper.

Something that wasn’t mentioned was that “younger viewers are particularly fond of going online while watching TV – over 20% of 16-24 year olds said this was something they always did.” (70% of TV audience goes online while viewing).

(There’s some more old data/insights on the BBC commissioning site for this demographic too – BBC Commissioning (16-24 year olds, youth). Everything there is probably more true now…)

Not surprisingly, none of us knew what the favourite OU courses were among 18-24 year olds, though I think the VC mentioned what percentage of our student population as a whole fell into that category. I also realised that I wouldn’t know how to even find out which courses in our Faculty, say, were most popular in terms of: a) raw numbers; and b) percentage of the overall course demographic. Any OU readers know the answer, or how to find out the answer?

Something else I picked up – any TV programme that lasts an hour was not made for the audience’s benefit (or something like that ;-) Even getting people to hang around for half an hour is an achievement, apparently…;-)

One of the desired outcomes of the meeting was that we should have definite things to build on… One clear statement was that future co-pros should be commissioned as multi-platform plays. I’m hopefully going to be working on some Digital Planet co-pros for BBC World service, so it’ll be interesting how far we can push the web stuff under that banner on open2.net, especially as the World Service don’t really push web adjuncts to radio at all…

Another outcome was that we should use blogs and wikis to keep the conversation going… I have to admit, I sighed… the we need blogs’n’wikis and then it’ll be alright phrase always makes me sigh… I was going to suggest that if we followed each other on twitter it’d probably be more useful, but I guess I’d have needed someone like James Cridland in the room to back me up that such a service existed and might in fact be useful…;-)

Now, if someone had said “and the discussion tag we should use is…” I’d have probably fallen off my chair, but until that becomes the norm (and people know what it means in practical terms), using “blogs’n’wikis” is not going to be the answer… IMVHO, of course;-)

(That said, I can see that maybe people would want the conversation/related info kept to some private backchannel… But I reckon every layer of privacy makes it harder to access, and therefore harder to engage with? And we’d be looking for a private backchannel that could cross two institutional boundaries – OU and BBC… Sigh…)

PS having a quick scout around, the only blogs I’ve found so far from others who were at the event are these occasional affairs: Mark Brandon (open2.net), Richard Williams, BBC Internet blog, Dan Gluckman. I have no idea whether anyone there twitters, or whether there are any others still (actively) blogging…?

PPS in the bar the evening before the brainstorm, we had an interesting chat about the extent to which the iPlayer is, or could become, a device independent channel in its own right. This is a note to self to post more about that another day…

PPPS looking the the OU presence on youtube just now, it looks like they’re gearing up for the full OU on Youtube release…

Or as Ian Roddis, who looks after the OU web team, put it:

It seems that as an institution, we are starting to get a bit of momentum up… and then it’ll be hard to stop, like turning a supertanker round… Methinks we could be in for a fun year or two :-)

P…PS on the topic of Youtube, anyone know of OU courses other than T184 that are embedding 3rd party Youtube movies?