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:

<app>
<id>bbcRevolution</id>
<name>Virtual Revolution, Enhanced</name>
<version>1.0.1</version>
<description>Watch items related to the BBC/OU Virtual Revolution.</description>
<thumb>http://www.bbc.co.uk/virtualrevolution/images/ou_126x71.jpg</thumb>
<media>video</media>
<copyright>Tony Hirst</copyright>
<email>a.j.hirst@open.ac.uk</email>
<type>rss</type>
<platform>all</platform>
<minversion>0.9.20</minversion>
<url>rss://pipes.yahoo.com/ouseful/delitv?&_render=rss&q=psychemedia/_delitvS+bbcrevolution</url>
<test-app>true</test-app>
</app>

[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 open.ac.uk 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..?;-)

Watching YouTube Videos on Boxee via DeliTV

One of the easiest ways to get started with DeliTV is to use it to watch video feed subscription from YouTube.

With DeliTV, you can bookmark the following sorts of Youtube content and then view it in a DeliTV Channel:

Bookmarked YouTube page Resulting DeliTV subscription
User homepage/channel
e.g Teachers’ TV channel
Guardian Newspaper
Recently uploaded videos for that user
Playlist page e.g T151: 3D Geo-World Demos Playlist feed
Video page e.g The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version) Single video
[NEW] Search results page e.g Search for “formula one” Search results containing 20 most relevant videos

Here is the example channel bookmarked to a demo DeliTV channel guide: delitv_ytdemo:

(You can of course grab a copy of any of these bookmarks into your own delicious account.)

We can now bookmark this channel guide so that it appears in a DeliTV multiplex. In the following example, I’m bookmarking it to my main delitv feed, and also to the boxeetest5 multiplex.

Here’s the result in my boxeetest5 feed:

DeliTV

And here’s a view of the delitv_ytdemo channel guide:

DeliTV channel guide

This is what the bookmarked user/channel produces – the recent uploads listing for that user/channel:

DeliTV - Youtube user/channel recent upoads

And here’s the playlist guide:

DeliTV - Youtube playlist feed

Remember, with DeliTV you don’t need to bookmark the actual Youtbe feed – just bookmark the user/channel, playlist or video page to Delicious, and DeliTV will do the rest for you…

To learn how to subscribe to your own DeliTV channel, see Deli TV – Personally Programmed Social Television Channels on Boxee: Prototype

PS a new feature, currently in testing, lets you bookmark a search results page. Whilst it is possible to generate searches for playlist or users/channels as well as videos, DeliTV currently returns just the 20 most relevant Youtube videos when a Youtube search results page is bookamarked.

Thematic BBC TV Channels on Boxee, courtesy of DeliTV

One of the nice things about iPlayer is that there are plenty of RSS feeds available for different sorts of content that is currently on iPlayer.

So for example, there are feeds available by channel, by genre, by genre and channel, feeds that contain the most popular programmes, and so on.

To a certain extent, you can also configure your own feeds:

BBC iPlayer feeds - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/feeds/

Feeds… hmmm :-)

Trying to subscribe to one of these feeds as is in Boxee gives…. nothing – no video items found:-( But if you tidy up the programme URIs that are contained in the feed up a little (for example, by using Boxee/BBC Feed helper pipe that just strips everything off the end of the programme URI after the programme ID. So for example http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00mq4r3/sign/Land_Girls_Destinies/ becomes http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00mq4r3) then you can subscribe to and that the programmes in Boxee…

Simply(?!) grab the BBC iPlayer programmes feed URI, paste it into the pipe, grab the RSS feed URI for that pipe containing that BBC iPlayer feed URI, and then subscribe to that feed in Boxee, and you can watch a thematic BBC iPlayer channel…

But that’s way too difficult, right? It’s much easier to just bookmark the feed to your DeliTV channel, and the DeliTV pipework will handle it for you. So for example, if you bookmark this Signed BBC TV programmes feed with your DeliTV tag on delicious, you’ll have that channel added to your DeliTV schedule :-)

PS remember, you can also bookmark BBC category pages, such as this one for BBC Thrillers (or on iPlayer: BBC TV Comedy (Sitcoms) with your DeliTV tag, and the programme feed should work correctly in your Boxee DeliTV channel:-)

Now I just need a day or two to put a proper DeliTV homepage togther, with some simple instructions and a screencast or two… Unless someone would like to volunteer to do that?! ;-)

PPS for howtos regarding the creation of other ‘canned’ DeliTV channels, see Recent BBC/OU TV Programmes on Boxee or UK Soaps on BBC and ITV/STV.

Recent BBC/OU TV Programmes on Boxee

Many of you will know that the OU co-produces several BBC television programmes, including Coast and The Money Programme, as well as a wide range of one off series.

If you want to keep up-to-date with OU/BBC programmes, you can now watch BBC/OU programmes on their own dedicated DeliTV channel: just bookmark http://pipes.yahoo.com/ouseful/bbcouiplayer to your DeliTV collection:-)

BBC/OU on DeliTV - http://pipes.yahoo.com/ouseful/bbcouiplayer

For details of getting started with DeliTV, see Deli TV – Personally Programmed Social Television Channels on Boxee: Prototype

If you interested in the technical details of how this channel was put together, read on…

What I originally hoped to do was make use of an earlier hack that underpinned Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer (also available on iPhone: iPhone 7 Day OU Programme CatchUp, via BBC iPlayer). Unfortunately the pipework behind those applications has broken (note to self: repair them… – DONE:-) becuase they relied on using a search of the BBC website, a search that now appears to be broken in Yahoo pipes (something to do with a robots.txt exclusion:-(

So it was time for a rethink…

My source of recent OU/BBC programmes is the @open2 twitter feed, which gives the title of the programme and the channel:

So what I needed was to find a way of getting the iPlayer programme IDs for these programmes. My first thought was to take each programme title from the @open2 feed, and search twitter with the name using the from:iplayer_bbcone search limit. But the @player_bbcone feed doesn’t seem to be complete, so I ruled that out…

Digging around the iPlayer site, I found a list of feeds containing content by channel currently on iPlayer (I think? God only knows how this’ll scale if they start to do much longer than 7 day catch-up….?!) – BBC iPlayer feeds

BBC iPlayer feeds - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/feeds/

[DOH! Something just jumped out at me there… have you seen it yet…? Important post to follow after this one…:-)]

So I created a pipe (BBC TV – Current Programmes on iPlayer) that pulled together the BBC TV feeds, and allowed you to “search” them by title (i.e. search by filtering…;-):

One thing I noticed in one of the @open2 tweets was a capitalisation error, which would fail to match in titles in the filter, so I used a regular expression to remove the effects of capitalisation from the filter stage. (I found the trick from a quick search of the Pipes forums,in a reply by @hapdaniel: replace the grabbed text with the \L prefix (i.e. I used \L$1 as the replacement text to convert everyhting in the $1 string to lower case. \U works for upper (\l replaces applies to the first char, as does \u).)

I could then run the titles from the @open2 feed through the BBC programmes pipe to grab the progamme URIs on iPlayer.

So here’s the pipe. We start by getting the last 50 items from the @open2 updates feed (using ?count=50 to get more than the default number of items from the feed), use a regular expression to parse the tweets to identify the programme titles, remove the duplicate programme title items from the feed using the Unique block, put the time that tweet was sent into a universal/canonical form and then filter by date so we only get tweets from the last 7 days.

We then run each item through the BBC programmes filter described above and return the recent programmes feed:

A couple of tweaks to the DeliTV pipe handle, you know, stuff ;-) and you can now bookmark this pipe – BBC/OU 7 Day TV Catchup (or it’s RSS feed output) to delicious, tagged so that it appears in your DeliTV feed, and you have a channel dedicated to recent BBC/OU TV programmes that have been broadcast on BBC One to Four and that are currently available on iPlayer :-)

UK HEI Boxee Channel

A week or so ago, Liz Azyan posted a list of UK HEI Youtube channels. Although not quite as polished as @liamgh et al’s OU Boxee app, I piucked up on a couple of suggestions Liam made over a pint last night about simply subscribing to an RSS feed in Boxee to roll my own UK HEI Youtube Boxee channel thing…

So here are the institutional channels:

and here’s a peek inside one of them:

This lets me watch the most recently uploaded videos to all (?) the UK HEIs’ most recent uploads to their Youtube channels, organised by institution via a lean back TV interface.

(You might be able to submenu the institutional channels/streams according to playlists they have specified, as well as tidying up things like icons/logos, maybe, but this was a 10 minute hack, rather than a half hour hack, ok?!;-)

Here’s the recipe…

1. Grab the table from Liz’s web page and create a feed from it:

2. Generate the feed URIs for the most recent uploads to each channel (in the form required by Boxe – e.g. rss://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/base/users/abertayTV/uploads?alt=rss&v=2&orderby=published):

Filter out stuff that isn’t a feed and complete the pipe:

We can now grab the RSS feed from the pipe in the normal way and subscribe to it via a personal account on the Boxee website.

If you now launch the Boxee app, select:

Video:

Internet

Video Feeds (My Feeds)

– the UK HEI Youtube Videos Channel

And from there, you should be able to browse – and play – the recent uploads to all the UK HEI Youtube channels that Liz has listed.

Not that I had a niggle with my Boxe player – I could hear the audio but not see the video for any of the Youtube videos when I tried to play them. If anyone else tries out this channel and gts the same problem, please let me know and I;ll see if it’s a feed problem. Otherwise, I’ll assume it’s a local glitch…

Here’s the RSS feed URI again: “UK HEI Youtube Channels on Boxee” RSS feed

PS out of interest, if I had bid to do this as a #jiscri project, how much should I have asked for?
planning: 10 mins chatting with Liam over a pint ysterday;
design: <5 mins looking up Youtube API/URI patterns
implementation:: <5 mins creating Yahoo pipe
configuration: <5 mins subscribing to the pipe feed in Boxee
testing: <5 mins seeing if it worked in Boxee (which it doesn’t, properly, but I’m blaming that on a local problem and trustung that it does actually work… err…?!;-)
Okay, so all told it was maybe a sub-20 minute hack rather than 5 minute one?
documentation: (i.e. blog post) 30-45 mins, incl grabbing screenshots.

And I’m on holiday today…