Nice story Tom! I love these little tales... shame Mother = fail :-(

Good to see that some of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle (including BBC
Search, with it's recentness/keyword weighting) are starting to come

Not sure if there's any intention to build a 'fuzzy' programme finder round
these parts but in /programmes we're certainly working on making it more
browsable so that the 'language' scenario will be easier to find. If you tie
this with Radio 4 looking to integrate /programmes more closely with their
website in the coming months, although quite a radical departure, all change
for the good. (having said all that trying to parse such an information rich
space as Radio 4 will always be a bit of a challenge)

If we continue to make more and more data available in the way we are then
i'd hope, that if the need is great enough, someone else will build a
'fuzzy' search before we do ;-)


Jamie Tetlow
BBC Future Media & Technology for Audio & Music Interactive

Working on: 
DynPub & APS
- Dynamic Publishing
- Automated Programme Support

On 22/2/09 15:49, "Tom Morris" <> wrote:

> My mother is a chronic Radio 4 listener and heard a little bit of a
> programme the other day when in the car that she thought a friend
> would be interested in. All she remembered was it was "about language
> and culture". She had the mistaken idea that it was on in the morning.
> She told me that she had been on the Radio 4 website looking to find
> it but had no luck. Admittedly, it was quite broad search criteria.
> I had a go at doing something about it today.
> First thing I did was make a directory on my Mac, then ran the
> following command:
> curl -O 
> Then I tried grepping that data, but it wasn't pretty-printed and so
> gave me the whole day's worth of programming for each result. So I ran
> the following:
> xmllint --format *.xml > combined.txt
> This pretty-printed all the XML and wrote it out to a text file.
> I then opened the resulting file up in MacVim. Here I had a
> metadata-rich 33250-line text file containing details of all the
> programmes broadcast on Radio 4 in the last month. I tapped "/" to
> start a search and typed in "language". It took me to the
> short_synopsis element of a programme element. I looked at the id, and
> appended the relevant namespace on the front to give me
> - I loaded the page in my
> browser, read the long description to my mother, who said something
> along the lines of "Ooh, yes, that's right!". She then forwarded that
> link and the link to the show page to her friend by e-mail. Total time
> for me was about ten minutes. But the point was that she wasn't able
> to do it herself - she had, as I said, gone through the listings pages
> and the Radio 4 website and couldn't find it.
> All this makes me very happy about the BBC's provision of excellent
> metadata as XML, RDF, ASCII and HTML, without doing any silly API or
> Web Services nonsense. It's great not only because people can build
> applications on top of it, but just because nerdy people can find
> stuff easier.
> A suggestion for making this better: a sort of 'fuzzy' programme
> finder - a very user-friendly search page linked to from iPlayer and
> Listen Again (etc.) that would let you do natural-language searching
> of programmes, sorted by recentness. So you could go on and select
> that you saw something on TV or heard something on radio, maybe
> specify a channel, maybe specify roughly when and throw it a few
> keywords.
> (I have to say, I did then just type 'language' into the BBC search,
> and the first result in the TV & Radio Programmes box was the right
> one. Having spent the last decade or so getting frustrated by the
> *ahem* less-than-optimal search on, that's not the first
> place I thought to look.)

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