Webometric Thoughts

August 8, 2009

Does the BBC now have the best 404 page?

Filed under: 404,BBC — admin @ 7:52 pm

Today I came across my favourite 404 error page. At some point the BBC has gone from this:

To this:

I’m not sure when the change was made, but both 404s are currently available on the site.

For those who were not fortunate enough to be brought up with the BBC’s iconic clown in the 60s,70s and 80s, it was featured on the BBC’s test card (..and according to wikipedia still makes occasional appearances).

This is a 404 that is guaranteed to make people smile and feel less miserable about not finding the page they expected; every 404 is a trip down memory lane. It’s such an obvious choice of a 404 when you think about it, it’s surprising that it took the BBC so long use it. It would be nice if more sites made efforts on their 404s, as it’s amazing how many of them we come across as we surf around the web.

Nb. Personally I hate redirects, I’d rather know the page I was looking for wasn’t there, rather than having to double-check a page’s URL after searching the page for the expected information.

December 16, 2008

I don’t need a TV licence, but I want one!

Filed under: BBC,tv licence — admin @ 11:23 am

Back in January, Ashley Highfield claimed that:

…the number of homes that currently have no television licence, but that do have broadband subscription is currently estimated to be infinitesimally small.

Since moving house I find myself with the opportunity to join this ‘infinitesimally small’ group, and save myself £139.50 a year! At my previous flat I had more TV channels than I could count thanks to Virgin Media, however my new flat couldn’t have Virgin Media installed and the current TV aerial picks up a grand total of just three digital channels very badly. As such the TV set is now just used for DVDs and the Wii, I don’t live stream TV from the web but rather watch on-demand TV. I no-longer need a TV licence.

Whilst it is entirely possible that I may need a TV licence in the future (e.g., to stream a big news), that is not why I have decided to keep paying my licence. Despite recent polls finding that the moronic-majority believe the licence fee is a ‘rip-off‘, I believe it is worth it even without the ‘live’ TV. Is there a better way to start the day Radio 4? Is there a better online news service than BBC.com? Is there an on-demand TV service that reaches more devices than the iPlayer (excluding the copyright-happy-YouTube)?

The problem for the BBC is that not everyone thinks the same way as I do. People are more likely to focus on the personal saving of £139.50, rather than the national loss of a great independent broadcaster. The “infinitesimally small” group is going to increase quickly in the near future, and licensing laws need to reflect these changes. Why do you never find people campaigning for higher licence fees covering more devices??

November 3, 2008

Facebook Overtakes the BBC in the UK!

Filed under: BBC,comScore,facebook — admin @ 2:24 pm

Looking at ComScore’s top U.K. web rankings for September 2008 there is one big story: the greatest broadcaster the world has ever known (i.e., the BBC) has been overtaken on the web in the UK by a social network site most famous for ‘the poke’ (i.e., the Facebook).

Whilst I have never been one to subscribe to the Daily Mail’s mantra that ‘the world has gone to hell in a handcart’, you can’t help but despair on days like this. The future’s bleak, the future is filled with flying sheep and zombie bites. It will be interesting to see how the Mail deal with the story. Do they spin it as the “BBC letting things slip” or “Armageddon due as world’s youth communicate”? So much fear and hatred and only one small paper.

The BBC has a massive site with loads of great stuff, but unfortunately most people just go to the same few small areas. Everyone should go to the BBC this minute and surf an area they haven’t been to before!

August 30, 2008

Remembering the Olympics: BBC thrashed NBC!

Filed under: BBC,olympics,streaming — admin @ 12:53 pm

Whilst the Olympics seems AGES ago now, I’ve only just come across some of streaming figures for the BBC and NBC:
NBC – 75.5 million streams
BBC – 40 million streams
Obviously comparisons are never simple, with different time zones likely to effect the choice of the Internet over the TV, but as the USA has five times the population of the UK 75.5 million streams doesn’t look very impressive.

It seems likely that London 2012 will make these figures seem ridiculously small. Hopefully the BBC will be offering more than just the 6 streams (it’s amazing that there was still so much that I wanted to see and couldn’t), and live mobile streams will be readily available.

UPDATE (11/09/08): Whilst I thought the BBC’s 40 million streams thrashed NBC, as the BBC is actually claiming 50 million streams, I guess the BBC thrashed NBC then delicately placed a cherry on top.

July 30, 2008

When will ITV.com join Virgin Catch Up TV?

Filed under: 4OD,BBC,ITV.com,Virgin Media,iPlayer — admin @ 8:26 am

Whilst having a look at the new Blinx Remote this morning (via The Guardian), I suddenly realised that I no longer watch ITV (with the exception of watching the over-paid tax-dodging Formula 1 drivers). Over the last couple of years my TV habits have changed beyond all recognition, and ITV has failed to keep pace.

First I started watching TV programmes online. Whilst 4OD and the iPlayer both offered downloads, ITV offered streaming which was not particularly practical as I started to suffer from my old ISP’s throttling measures.

Then I subscribed to Virgin TV which has given me the iPlayer and 4OD programmes on my TV with Virgin’s TV Catchup: Anytime with no download problems. Unfortunately ITV hasn’t signed up, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t find any indication online that they plan to.

Whilst I find myself streaming the BBC on my Eee PC whilst doing the cooking, catching up on the TV, and even watching live for those can’t wait programmes (such as last night’s Summer Heights High), ITV has been relegated to point where I don’t even know what is on anymore.

Whilst I have never been a fan of ITV, it is important to have a competitive domestic market, so they need to start catching up!

June 25, 2008

iPlayer 2.0 – a long way to go

Filed under: 4OD,BBC,ITV,Kangaroo,video — admin @ 4:54 pm

On the same day that the BBC announce tomorrow’s launch of version 2 of the iPlayer, comScore release some details of where UK internet viewers are watching their videos. Despite all the whinging from the ISPs, the BBC is a distant second to Google’s collection of video sites, both in terms of the number of videos watched and the number of unique users, unfortunately they don’t compare the number of hours watched (the BBC programmes are likely to be a lot longer…and in the whinging ISPs defense, higher quality).

What is particularly interesting is that neither 4OD or ITV’s catch up service even make it on the top ten list. Reiterating the point I made when the BBC were criticised for over-spending on their online services: The BBC is not competing with commercial UK companies. Rather than criticising the BBCs spending, other content providers should be looking for ways of working with the BBC. Whilst the elusive project Kangaroo will help create an online presence for the traditional TV viewer, it is probably not enough.

People have changed the way they watch video, they are now seemingly watching shorter videos as they click through sites like YouTube. The traditional providers need to find ways of getting part of that market. Whilst attempts are made to make short clips available, it tends to be with a top-down approach, rather than giving the users the free reign that they want. Obviously such free reign is difficult as the BBC, Channel 4, and ITV work within copyright rules, whereas YouTube takes a more laissez-faire approach.

Its obviously not all doom and gloom for the traditional video providers. The iPlayer is still relatively new, Kangaroo will put a bit of bounce in the figures, and as the TV is replaced by computer entertainment systems people will probably start watching longer programmes again. Nonetheless, before the UK tv stations fall further behind, they need to start thinking outside the box a bit more :-)

May 29, 2008

bbc.co.uk: Reviewed

Filed under: BBC,BBC Trust,web — admin @ 6:30 pm

In its extensive review of bbc.co.uk the BBC Trust concludes (amongst other things):

bbc.co.uk is an excellent service that is highly valued by users and makes a strong contribution to delivering the BBC’s public purposes

Definitely the most obvious finding ever. Although the 75 page report does have some other interesting bits and pieces.

Whilst we all follow our Google Analytics, few of us could afford the traffic levels of the BBC:

My own hosting package (with streamline.net) includes un-restricted visitor bandwidth, however the most any of their customers uses is 1313.07GB, a thousandth of the BBC’s traffic. It would be interesting to see how the traffic has increased since December with the iPlayer (it didn’t launch to all until December 25th).

As someone who has enjoyed a limited amount of traffic from the BBC it is interesting to see the number of click-throughs they send:

My own 202 visitors from the BBC (over a number of months) quickly pales in comparison to these figures.

Whilst overall things at the BBC seem to be on the up, I was particularly pleased to notice that there seems a slight downward trend on the Have Your Say section of the site.

It sounds good to let the public publish their opinions, unfortunately most of them are extremely odious.

Unfortunately not everything is positive. The BBC got a bit carried away with their spending so the commercial rivals are having a bit of a whinge. However, the BBC is not competing with ITN or ITV, they’re competing with the world. If we want to have the British perspective promoted to the world, rather than a right-wing US perspective, then we need a strong BBC.

April 22, 2008

BBC’s Sound Index: The latest and greatest

Filed under: BBC,Sound Index — admin @ 8:00 am

Despite all the information technology at our finger tips, I am still amazed at how long it takes for stories to spread around the web. The BBC has launched a Sound Index, a social media music chart that is updated every hour. Despite being mentioned in the Radio 1 blog on the 11th April, and in the Guardian on the Friday, it suddenly seems to be talked about everywhere since blogged about in the ReadWriteWeb. The way we access news has changed, and despite what we may think, it is not always faster…

Anyway, the Sound Index:

Every six hours the Sound Index crawls some of the biggest music sites on the internet – Bebo, MySpace, Last.FM, iTunes, Google and YouTube – to find out what people are writing about, listening to, watching, downloading and logging on to. It then counts and analyses this data to make an instant list of the most popular 1000 artists and tracks on the web. The more blog mentions, comments, plays, downloads and profile views an artist or track has, the higher up the Sound Index they are. So, the Sound Index is a music buzz index controlled entirely by the public.

It is an interesting twist on the traditional charts, potentially making a person’s actions as important as their songs as they attempt to create an internet buzz.

The top of the Sound Index is unsurprisingly full of the usual suspects, although as it is a top 1000 there is plenty of room for the lesser known acts, and the classic pop canon.

Whilst it is an easy and enjoyable way to waste time, I must admit that I was shocked to find that Cliff Richard has yet to make it into the index….obviously something wrong with the algorithm.

April 9, 2008

iPlayer on the Wii: Now where should I put my Wii?

Filed under: BBC,iPlayer,wii — admin @ 2:42 pm

The BBC’s iPlayer can now be streamed on the Wii, currently through the Opera browser, but eventually with its own channel. Whilst the public will generally welcome the move, the ISPs will continue their whinging after selling packages that they can’t afford honour properly. Suggestions from the ISPs that the BBC should help pay for the rising costs are idiotic; services like the iPlayer will help push the UK’s internet infrastructure to higher standards and shouldn’t be penalised.

My own problems with the iPlayer will be less costly than it will be for the ISPs. My biggest problem is that I don’t know where to put my Wii now. I currently can’t get the iPlayer on my TV as the files refuse to be routed via the Netgear EVA 700, but at the same time I like my current PC/Wii all-in-one set-up. Nonetheless I think the latest platfirn has partly placated my wrath from when they rolled out on the iPhone before the N95.

Whilst I have found that the iPlayer on the Wii isn’t as good a picture as on the PC, this is probably due to it being routed via a TVBOX to my PC screen, and will probably improve when it gets its own channel.

April 7, 2008

BBC Internet Blog: A blog in tune

Filed under: BBC,mobile illiteracy — admin @ 4:32 pm

Every now and then you read a blog post which is surprisingly in tune with your own thoughts and ramblings. Today that blog post was at the BBC, about the future of the mobile internet in the UK. Unsurprisingly, for a post on the technological future, it was more questions than answers:
-What device will win? Mobile phone, e-readers, £100 Linux laptops, or full blown notebooks?
-And most importantly, what sort of role the BBC can play?

I doubt whether any single device will ‘win’, instead it will be a case of horses for courses. Different people have different needs, and people will make the selection that meets their needs. For me this is the mobile phone, and the £100 Linux laptop (although the Eee PC was £200); if I can get the laptop out I do, but as I am walking down the street it’s not particularly practical. For others it may be a mobile phone and an e-reader, or they may only want to access the mobile internet on a full blown notebook.

Whilst the market seems to be quite good at getting the devices into people’s hands these days, I think the BBC could provide a service in telling people how to use them more productively. These day the average person has a mobile phone and a computer whose potential is barely touched. What proportion of users are aware of the additional programs and services they can download to their phones, or the information that they could get from the web with a bit of basic programming? The BBC could play an important role in raising the technological-literacy of the masses rather than the few; surely it is the only organisation with the capacity to do it.

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