I know a number of people disagree with me on this one, and I’ve actually had in person arguments over it, but I like the collection based way the BBC is releasing and publishing the contents of its archive.
I like this for several reasons but the main one being findability – if everything could have been released en mass it would have taken some serious semantic technology and data navigation to make it all easily accessible.
This way, releasing it in topic related chunks (which I’m assuming can be tied to /topics) makes it easy to find, easy to use and even easier to navigate.
It also makes it easier to blog about and use in research. But back to /topics for a minute.
There isn’t a topics page for Doctor Who at the moment – so this archive isn’t a good example of how it could be used – but there is one for the NHS and there is also a very good, very extensive and detailed archive collection for the NHS (or at least the birth of it).
The /topics page for NHS (automatically generated) currently includes an editors choice set of links – including one to the BBC Archive as well as external links, audio video objects and links to BBC News stories.
But where an archive collection is a avaiable I think that should be included as a seperate object as well. It could be structured similar to the news object – with top feature and related a/v content.
Anyway back to the Doctor Who Archive.
First off – it isn’t full of old Doctor Who clips, there are plenty of those elsewhere on the web and even elsewhere on the BBC site itself – but there is some cool stuff in the archive collection.
This specific collection is about the start of Doctor Who – how the whole thing got going so has a few photos of early Doctors (publicity and set) as well as some interesting text based documents.
There is a report into whether the BBC should be doing SciFi at all, a copy of a radio times article, concept notes and a audience research report.
Its a great early research tool and resource and in a position that could easily be expanded as rights are cleared.
The way the collections are structured (on a specific area of a big topic) means that they could easily be contained within (eventually) a larger topic directory.
So for instance I can invisage a top level group of archives – that could even be attached to BBC Topic pages.
We’d have the current NHS beginnings within a general NHS category along with something like ‘before the NHS’, ‘funding the NHS’ etc…