BBC Creative Archive

The BBC’s Director-General (CEO, I guess) has announced a project called Creative Archive:

“Let me explain with an easy example.

Just imagine your child comes home from school with homework to make a presentation to the class on lions, or dinosaurs, or Argentina or on the industrial revolution.

He or she goes to the nearest broadband connection – in the library, the school or even at home – and logs onto the BBC library.

They search for real moving pictures which would turn their project into an exciting multi-media presentation.

They download them and, hey presto, they are able to use the BBC material in their presentation for free.

Now that is a dream which we will soon be able to turn into reality.

We intend to allow parts of our programmes, where we own the rights, to be available to anyone in the UK to download so long as they don’t use them for commercial purposes.

Under a simple licensing system, we will allow users to adapt BBC content for their own use.

We are calling this the BBC Creative Archive.

When complete, the BBC will have taken a massive step forward in opening our content to all – be they young or old, rich or poor.”

There’s a lot of other stuff about the BBC in the press at the moment, which has overshadowed this announcement… but it’s great news.

Brave and disruptive – and will have to be executed as such, with no half-measures or compromises to vested interests, but it’s still great..

Some good coverage and analysis here and here.

Large/Big/High Numbers

While trying to find stuff on Graham’s Number ( dimly-remembered from childhood obsession over the Guinness Book of Records) I come across Robert Munafo”s large numbers page, and his fascinating, Hofstadter-inspired classification of numbers:

” Class-1 numbers are those that are small enough to be perceived as a bunch of objects seen directly by the human eye. What I mean by “seen directly” is that it is possible to see the number as a set of separate, distinct objects in a single scene (no time limit, but the observer and the objects cannot move). 100 is a class-1 number because it is possible to see 100 objects (goats for example) in a single scene. The limit for class-1 numbers is around a million, 1,000,000 or 10^6. You can just barely put 1,000,000 dots on a large piece of paper and stand at a distance such that you can perceive each individual dot as a distinct dot, and at the same time be within viewing distance of the other 999,999 dots. (I have actually done this, just for fun!)”

Big Numbers was the name of a troubled Alan Moore / Bill Sienkiewicz co-creation. The High Numbers was the original name of The Who.


THAT’s where you’ve gone!. Starting to get really fed up of finding out that mates of yours have gone over to Typepad, and hence have a new URL, but you have no idea.

The Trotts should build in a “change of address” card feature.

Not spiders, but snakes.

“”When a dog loses a leg it’s got a clever enough brain to allow it to adapt,” says computer scientist Peter Bentley at University College London. But robots still lack this adaptive ability and so tend to give up the ghost when circumstances change.

Bentley and his colleague Siavash Haroun Mahdavi borrowed a trick from evolution to allow their robot to adapt to damage. The snakebot is made up of modular vertebral units that “snap” together to form a snake-like body

…The software for making a robot wriggle like a snake is fairly straightforward. But ensuring that the snake will keep moving even if a segment is damaged is trickier, and relies on different segments taking over from the damaged ones.

So Bentley and Mahdavi have created a genetic algorithm (GA) – a software routine that takes a “survival of the fittest” approach – to produce a system that continually evolves to improve itself.”

» NewScientist: Robot spy can survive battlefield damage


Picture of kid making mobile phone from clay in Africa from Newsweek, over at my moblog

From this week’s European edition of Newsweek, which is all about tech, kids use of tech and how our tech is changing our brains:

“Is the stimulation of new media preparing kids for a future high-tech world—or turning them into antisocial, superficial dolts? There are no definitive answers. Only in the past few years have scientists begun to plumb children’s brains to see what goes on during the hours they spend engrossed in videogames or surfing the Web. What seems clear is that children are developing a far different set of skills than they had before. They are growing adept at handling visual information and multitasking. And the messaging free-for-all may actually help some kids overcome childhood awkwardness in relating to their peers.”

» Bionic Youth: Too Much Information?
» Kids: Tuning in, Turning On
» Tech: Listening to the Kids
» Kids: The End of Make Believe

UI: the next-generation.

Jakob’s latest alertbox: “Mobile Devices: One Generation From Useful” in which he states that GUIs and email must be fundamentally rethought for mobile devices, rather than squishing legacy UIs from desk-based devices. Gives me the excuse to dredge something interesting written by Chris from the comments on this post:

“I’m the external examiner on a couple of undergrad multimedia design courses, and this summer I’ve seen the first set of students who design intuitively for the phone. What I mean is, they don’t need briefs telling them to design for the phone, but because they’re the texting generation, they’re as comfortable with the alphanumeric keypad and txt language as a data entry method than they are with the point and click interface.

The phone-based projects they showed me just worked. when I asked for their research, there was little. They just knew what the best methods were, because they’ve spent their entire teenage lives texting.”

Can’t wait to see some of these projects…