Popping the radio

Radio Pop Please repeat after me ‘data data data data data data data’ and repeat it until you die. I did toy with just filling the whole post with that one word – but maybe I should explain a little bit first.

This post originally started with six paragraphs talking about my background in web development as a way of getting into the changing trends in new media expectation.

Looking back it was all a load of old bollocks that meant little and served even less purpose. So instead I’ve scrapped it and will go straight into the point of the post (with a pointless rant about something I’ve not used).

Recent trends in websites are much more aimed at open data, shared information, APIs and social aspects – certainly more so than the design focus of the mid-90s and the usable content is king focus of the late 90s to early 00s.

Now you need great content, a great design, a useable interface AND the ability to share the data with everyone else.

People want to be able to share what they do and what they’re doing – they want to see what they’re friends are doing and they want to have a way of publishing all this information on any platform that they choose to use regularly.

The BBC has just launched a new project that fits this trend and applies it to radio.

I don’t listen to a huge amount of live radio personally as I prefer the flexibility of podcasts and listen again (I’ve been spoilt I know) but something like this might really start to encourage me to listen live more often.

So lets explain what it is. Radio Pop isn’t a new children’s show on CBBC playing the sort of crappy music my eight year old daughter sings all the sodding time.

It IS a really cool web app that works along the same lines as scrobbling with last.fm – as long as you listen to BBC Radio through the site it tracks what you’re listening to, when and for how long and uses that information to produce pretty graphs, facts and figures.

It’s basically an excuse for people to say ‘look I’m clever I listen to the Today programme on Radio 4 and classical music on BBC Radio 3’.

Or ‘look I’m cool I listen to Steve Lamacq on 6music’. Actually that’s a little cynical but there does seem to be a huge amount of political and classical listening happening.

It works really well and is VERY PRETTY as with most of the uber cool trials, betas and proofs of concept coming out of the brilliant BBC Audio & Music Interactive team.

What I’d like to see though – instead of having to listen through the Radio Pop website player – for there to be a Firefox extension that meant it would register any BBC Radio listening – whether through RadioPop or the iPlayer and whether Listen Again or Listen Live.

I understand the need for it to be national stations only at the moment – nations and regions content isn’t within /programmes at the moment (although it will be by the end of the year apparently) and aren’t within the iPlayer proper yet (although again this is supposed to happen by year end).

But it would be cool if it logged all my radio listening and maybe even logged podcasts I listen to with an iTunes add on.

There is another feature to RadioPop and that’s the Pop part. I haven’t quiet worked out exactly what the point of it is yet but I think the potential is huge.

At the moment it seems to be a sort of bookmark – you click pop and it adds an entry to your Pops page with the name, station, logo, time and date of what you were listening to.

Right now clicking on More just gives you a bigger picture and tells you who else was listening at the same time. But I imagine (for speech programmes) this could be used to also give you an audio sample.

So you could click start pop and then end pop and have it save the selection of audio straight to your pops index – have a time limit on it, make it play in flash and you REALLY WOULD have a useful audio bookmarking service.

It could even just place a marker into the listen again file for that show (when it becomes available) and automatically take you to that point in the file when you click your Pop – that would then allow the system to work as is without the start and finish.

Anyway – love the implementation, love the future possibilities, not sure I will keep remembering to go back to listen again and again to make it worthwhile.

Needs: Firefox add-on that logs listens through the iPlayer (listen again and live) and iTunes add-on that logs podcasts.

Oh and – yes – there is an API and a pretty detailed one at that. And you can add me as a friend as well.