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Wednesday 25 June 2008

Linking Open Data: BBC playcount data as linked data

For the Mashed event this week end, the BBC released some really interesting data. This includes playcount data, stating how much an artist is featured within a particular BBC programmes (at the brand or episode level).

During the event, I wrote some RDF translators for this data, linking web identifiers in the DBTune Musicbrainz linked data to web identifiers in the BBC Programmes linked data. We used it with Kurt and Ben in our hack. Ben made a nice write-up about it. By finding web identifiers for tracks in a collection and following links to the BBC Programmes data, and finally connecting this Programmes data to the box holding all recorded BBC radio programmes over a year that was available at the event, we can quite easily generate playlists from an audio collection. Two python scripts implementing this mechanism are available there. The first one uses solely brands data, whereas the second one uses episodes data (and therefore helps to get fewer and more accurate items in the resulting playlist). Finally, the thing we spent the most time on was the SQLite storage for our RDF cache :-)

This morning, I published the playcount data as linked data. I wrote a new DBTune service for that. It publishes a set of web identifiers for playcount data, interlinking Musicbrainz and BBC Programmes. I also put online a SPARQL end-point holding all this playcount data along with aggregated data from Musicbrainz and the BBC Programmes linked data (around 2 million triples overall).

For example, you can try the following SPARQL query:

SELECT ?brand ?title ?count
WHERE {
   ?artist a mo:MusicArtist;
      foaf:name "The Beatles". 
   ?pc pc:object ?artist;
       pc:count ?count.
   ?brand a po:Brand;
       pc:playcount ?pc;
       dc:title ?title 
    FILTER (?count>10)}

This will return every BBC brand that has featured The Beatles more than 10 times.

Thanks to Nicholas and Patrick for their help!

Mashed!

I was at Mashed (the former Hack Day) this week-end - a really good and geeky event, organised by the BBC at Alexandra Palace. We arrived on the Saturday morning for some talks, detailing the different things we'd be able to play with over the week-end. Amongst these, a full DVB-T multiplex (apparently, it was the first time since 1956 that a TV signal was broadcasted from Alexandra Palace), lots of data from the BBC Programmes team and a box full of recorded radio content over the last year.

After these presentations, the 24 hours hacking session began. We sat down with Kurt and Ben and wrote a small hack which basically starts from a personal music collection and creates you a playlist of recorded BBC programmes. I will write a bit more about this later today

During the 24 hours hack, we had a Rock Band session on big screen, a real-world Tron game (basically, two guys running with GPS phones, guided by two persons watching their trail on a google satellite map :-) ), a rocket launching...

Finally, at 2pm on the Sunday, people presented their hacks. Almost 50 hacks were presented, all extremely interesting. Take a look at the complete list of hacks! On the music side, Patrick's recommender was particularly interesting. It used Latent Semantic Analysis on playcount data for artists in BBC brands and episodes to recommend brands from artists or artists from artists. It gave some surprising results :-) Jamie Munroe resurrected the FPFF Musicbrainz fingerprinting algorithm (which was apparently due to replace the old TRM one before MusicIP offered their services to Musicbrainz) to identify tracks played several times in BBC programmes. The WeDoID3 team talked about creating RSS feeds from embedded metadata in audio and video, but the demo didn't work.

My personal highlight was the hack (which actually won a prize) from Team Bob. Here is a screencast of it:


BBC Dylan - News 24 Revisited (Clip) from James Adam on Vimeo.

Thanks to Matthew Cashmore and the rest of the BBC backstage team for this great event! (and thanks to the sponsors for all the free stuff - I think I have enough T-shirts for about a year now :-))