Thursday, 18 February 2010

Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time from the BBC has a refresh - nice job!

In Our Time
As part of my research for the Royal Society anniversary in the previous post, I discovered that the Melvyn Bragg,  In Our Time,  radio series from BBC Radio 4, has a new web site - or at least a design and information architecture refresh.  It is very classy. Click the image above and have a look. Or go direct, here.

The Archive
If you do you'll find there are all sorts of improvements , including some feature programmes to each of the main categories - Culture, History, Philosophy, Science, Religion.  Additionally, there is a lot cleaner comment option, newsletter sign-up -  and of course, the prime new feature - a complete search and browse archive to the whole series. This is a significant piece of treasure trove.

For those who have yet to find this broadcasting treasure, In Our Time, is build on the radical idea that there is still an audience, and indeed the expertise, to have expert panel discussions on topics in the fields of culture, history, science, religion, and philosophy, et al.

I'm a total addict.

The importance of an institutional Archive
I am also so leased to see a proper archive of the series.Hitherto, unless you got them onto your iPod or similar, you could never guarantee the audio from a previous programme would be there when you went back to look.

Don't get me wrong iPods etc are very fine things. And given you could always download the MP3, there is every possibility that there are thousands of copies of all the programmes tucked away on hard drives the world over.

That said, I still think there should be a proper archive of this type of material in the institution which created it.  It would be even more reassuring to learn that key broadcast series like these were going to be preserved and made available as a cultural asset in perpetuity, as opposed to another set of disposable voices.

And going one step further, I'm looking forward to the day when we can have a BBC open API to these collections so that we can use them within our own contextual learning spaces. 

Critique of Search
My only critique would be in the search options, I can't search by contributor.  If this sounds a little too much of the inner librarian, bear in mind, like others, I have some favorite contributors who appear in more than one programme. Jonathan Ree, the peripatetic philosopher at larger comes to mind for a start.

But I mither. It's a lovely piece of work!


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