BBC Radio Explorer:…

BBC Radio Explorer: a new way to listen to radio by James Cridland.

From the post:

The BBC has quietly released a prototype service called BBC Radio Explorer.

The service is the result of “10% time”, a loose concept that allows the BBC’s software engineers time to develop and play about with things. Unusually, this one is visible to the public, if you know where to look. But, with a quiet announcement on Twitter and no press release, you’ll be forgiven to not know it exists. That’s by design: since it’s not finished: every page tells us it’s “work-in-progress”.

BBC Radio Explorer is a relatively simple idea. Type something that you’re interested in, and the service plays you clips and programmes that it thinks you’ll like: one after the other. It’s a different way to listen to the BBC’s speech radio output, and it should unearth a lot of interesting programming from the BBC.

Technically, it’s nicely done: type a topic, and it instantly starts playing some audio. The BBC’s invested some time in clipping some of their programmes into small chunks, and typically you’ll get a little bit of the Today programme, or BBC Radio 5 live’s breakfast show, as well as longer-form programmes. You can skip forward and back to different clips, and a quite clever progress bar shows you images of what’s coming up, while the current programme slowly disappears. It’s a responsive site, and apparently works well on iOS devices too, though Android support is lacking.

James compares similar services and discusses a number short-comings of the service.

An old and familiar one is the inadequacy of BBC Radio Explorer search capabilities. Not unique to the BBC but common across search engines everywhere.

But on the whole, James take this to be a worthwhile venture and I would have to agreed.

Unless and until users become more vocal about what is lacking in current search capabilities, business as usual will prevail as search engines tweak their results to sell more ads.

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