Sunday 24 October 2004

Thoughts on a BBC API

After seeing some cool newsy metadataey things recently like aaronland's New York Times widgets and Stef's BBC News wikipedia thing, and talking to Tom L about some of his grand ideas, I've been thinking more about where the BBC should be in the semantic web, the lazyweb, etc etc... and in the end I figure we at the BBC should be able to build the content equivalent of Google API or Amazon API.

Basically, Google provides a bunch of web services (via SOAP and REST) and exposes their core functionality to developers around the world. They provide the engine, developers can build their own interface, as long as they follow a few rules. Amazon does the same thing, although of course they're not being nearly as nice as Google because they're really just opening up their shopping cart to others, they still get the money from any sales.

So if Google can provide the definitive search API that everyone can use, and Amazon can provide a book buying API, what could the BBC offer? The list is endless...

  • GIS services: postocde<->location name<->lat/long mapping

  • TV/radio listings services: what's on today, what's on this week, in a particular genre, on a paricular network, what's on right now

  • Search services: BBC search via API

  • metadata services: classification engine??, list of terms, integrate with BBC Search to show stories/pages that match metadata terms

  • information services: weather, traffic info, financial data...

A simple application of this would be something that takes a person's postcode, uses the postcoder API to translate it to a lat/long, then uses the BBC search to find all content marked with locations within 10 miles, and presents a custom page for that user. Of course that's just the beginning!