Clive Thompson visits an online multiplayer game that's about to be turned off.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Here's a proper write-up of the BBC annotatable audio, or is that audio annotation, project that I was involved in a couple of months ago. I keep linking to Tom's writeup and Dan suggested I should have my own entry on it. So it gives me something to do on my train journey this evening and it's not as if I've got piles of books at home waiting to be read, oh no.
So, if you haven't seen the annotatable audio demo already, it's a wiki-like interface for dividing BBC radio programmes into segments and annotating and tagging each section. Basically using the audience to generate metadata for programmes which we (the BBC) don't have. The benefit to the BBC is that we get loads of lovely metadata and the benefit to the audience is that they get a more navigable programme and potentially all sorts of searches and custom downloads.
We (Tom Coates, Chris Bowley, Helen Crowe, Bronwyn Van Der Merwe, Paul Clifford and me) developed a prototype where users can go to a particular programme, see a visualisation of the audio over time and then add "segments" by dragging start and end bars. Each segment can then have a title, description and tags added. The whole thing works like a wiki so there is one canonical version of the programme with the last edited set of segments and metadata and there's the usual history page. Everything's stored in a database so it's searchable and browsable and there are lots of things we could do with this...searching for segments, creating custom programmes out of disparate segments, creating segmented MP3 files etc. And it should be usable for anyone from internal BBC production teams to the whole web audience.
Here's the Flash playback interface. You can skip between the segments (shown by the green overlays) and by hovering you can get a pop-up of the segment title.
Here's the Flash edit interface. You can edit an existing segment by dragging its start or end and you can create a new segments.
And this is the very simple history page, all you can do at the moment is roll back to a particular point in time. Ideally this would also include lists of changes.
One thing we didn't have time to add was a more comment-y feature, separate from the annotation used currently. Maybe users could add timed text-based comments at particular times and you could subscribe to your friends comments? Possible interfaces include showing comments along the timeline or pop-ups that appear at the appropriate time. Another potential feature is to provide auto-suggested tags - maybe from existing programme metadata, from term extraction based on the description or I've been playing around with generating keywords from speech-recognition software. In the new year we will be doing some more work on this project but I can't say any more right now.
This post represents my views and not necessarily those of the BBC.
Posted by tristan at 20:47
Friday, December 09, 2005
How to generate a 20 second mix of all your music in iTunes...
Download my music in 20 seconds
As mentioned previously i've been interested in how to navigate audio content, be it an iTunes collection or a radio network, and I talked about automatically generating representative samples of music. The iTunes signature maker seems to do just this. First it identifies some representative tracks (e.g. most played or top rated), it then does an FFT on sections of each track and, I think, uses this to create a series of spectrally similar excerpts, one from each track. It then cross-fades these together using varying lengths of each track. The application itself is a signed Java applet but note that you do have to give it permission to read your hard drive. And there seems to be GPL'd source code so I might have a play when I get a chance. I wonder how it works on speech radio?
Posted by tristan at 16:18