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Transcribe BBC Radio 4
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Transcribe BBC Radio 4

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+NPR showing the way for BBC Radio
By +Jonathan Schofield on behalf of Transcribe BBC Radio 4

I'm a radio listener, not an insider, so a lot of the things in +James Cridland's article (shared below) that +NPR are doing and have been doing for some years were news to me:

1. NPR does extensive transcripts
2. NPR is all over user-generated-content
3. NPR are open about their technologies
4. NPR’s API is a huge asset
5. NPR’s iPhone app is huge
6. NPR’s audio content never times out

James's article is over 2 years old now and the BBC have moved on a little -- their use of user generated content and apps, for example -- but they have a lot to learn from NPR who, as James says, clearly punch way above their weight.

Come on BBC, you are a Public Service Broadcaster. You should be doing transcripts, and you should have better APIs than this:

What a shame that the +Radio 4 page has posted nothing so far and I can't find any Radio 4 presenters here on G+ either (for some reason G+ won't auto-detect and link to the Radio 4 page so here is a verbose link:

cc +Andy Carvin
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Transcribe BBC Radio 4

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Here's an alphabetical list of 2011 programmes that we could be searching and discussing more easily…
Which ones do you think are particularly suited to being transcribed?

2010: Space Odyssey to Europa
78 Revolutions
A Baby Asbo
A Brief History of Mathematics
A Child to Sponsor
A Good Read
A Guide to Farmland Birds
A History of the Brain
A History of the Brain Omnibus
A History of the World in 100 Objects
A History of the World in 100 Objects Omnibus
A History of the World Special
A Hundred Years of Mervyn Peake
A Life With ...
A Point of View
A View Through a Lens
A Voyage on Livingstone's Lake
Act of Worship
ADHD and Me
Advance of the Giant Crabs, The
Afternoon Play
Afternoon Reading
Age of the Genome, The
All in the Mind
Am I Normal?
An Idea Whose Time Has Come
An Unhealthy Wait
Andy Cave's Expedition Underground
Angels in the North
Any Answers?
Any Questions?
Aping Evolution
Archers Omnibus, The
Archers, The
Archive Hour, The
Archive on 4
Arise Black Man: The Peter Tosh Story
Armistice Day Silence
Art Bunker, The
Art of Water Music, The
Australian Rap
Baby Asbo, A
Back Row
Balancing Bluebottle, The
Bankers and the Bottom Billion, The
Barbershop, The
Batman and the Barbies
Bells on Sunday
Between the Tides
Beyond Belief
Beyond Hackgate: Who Should We Trust Now?
Beyond Westminster
Big Bang Day: Engineering Solutions
Big Bang Day: Five Particles
Big Bang Day: The Making of CERN
Biggest Radio on Earth, The
Biomimicry: Inspired by Nature
Bird Fancyer's Delight, The
Blair's Faith Foundation
Bleached Bone and Living Wood
Bleep Bleep Bloop: Music and Video Games
Blood For Blood
Blowing in the Wind: Dylan's Spiritual Journey
Book at Bedtime
Book of the Week
Bottom Line, The
Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Society
Brain of Britain
Bridging the Morphine Gap
Brief History of Mathematics, A
Brighton: The Bomb That Changed Politics
Bringing Up Britain
Britain's Atlantis
Britain's Labs
Britain's Sputnik
British Germans, The
British, More or Less
Broadcasting House
Brown Years, The
Budget Call
Budget Call
Budget Call
Case Notes
Catching up with Cancer
Ceremony of Remembrance from the Cenotaph
Chambers, The
Chaplin Archive, The
Charlotte White's Musical Fight
Check Up
Chemist of Life and Death, The
Chemistry of Addiction, The
Chi-Chi: Panda Ambassador
Child to Sponsor, A
Chinese Nureyev, The
Chips With Everything
Choice, The
Churchill's Roar
City Limits
Clair Patterson: Scourge of the Lead Industry
Classic Serial
Classics Illustrated: The Comic Book Unbound
Cleansing The Thames
Click On
Coming Home
Communist Cosmos, The
Composer Joseph Horovitz: No Ordinary Joe
Computer with a Poker Face, The
Cosmic Quest
Costing the Earth
Creative Genius
Criminal Mind, The
Crossing Continents
Cuckoo, The
Daily Service
Dali Christ, The
Dead Sea Scrolls Revisited
Debating Animals
Defeat of Sleep, The
Defining The Decade
Democracy on Trial
Desert Island Discs
Doctor and Douglas, The
Does Happiness Write White?
Doing It in the Street
Don't Hang Up
E Generation at 40, The
Elvis By Bono
Empire of Climate, The
Entrepreneur's Wound, The
Erased Memories and Spotless Minds
Erich Honecker's Rock and Roll Years
Ethnic Drugs: The Magic Bullet?
Eureka Years, The
Europe: Driving on the Right
Excess Baggage
Face the Facts
Falling for Francoise
Fallout: The Legacy of Chernobyl
Farming Today
Fascinating Deaths
Fela Kuti Comes Home
FIFA: Football, Power and Politics
File on 4
Film Programme, The
Fingerprints on Trial
First 1000 Days: A Legacy for Life, The
Fly me to the Moon
Foes Reunited
Foghorn: A Celebration, The
Follow the Leader
Food and Farming Awards
Food and Farming Awards
Food Programme
For Nature, Not Humans
For One Night Only
Four Thought
France's Forgotten Concentration Camps
Free Wales Harmony: When Pop Went Welsh
Freedom Trail, The
Friday Play
From Dunkirk to D-Day
From Our Own Correspondent
From Sputnik to Satnav
Front Row
Gardeners' Question Time
GCHQ: Cracking the Code
Generations Apart
Genius Unrecognised
Getting Your Brain to Bloom
Ghost Music
Give Me the MoonLITE
GM Rides Again
God On My Mind
Gone Today, Hair Tomorrow
Good Read, A
Great Big Particle Adventure, The
Great Game in a Cold Climate: A Tale of Two Cities, The
Great Lives
Green Ears
Greening of the Deserts, The
Guide to Farmland Birds, A
Happy Birthday, Neptune
Hard to Tell
Has the Taliban Won in Afghanistan?
Hearts and Minds
Hemingway Days
Here We Come
Herschel Space Telescope, The
History of the Brain Omnibus, A
History of the Brain, A
History of the World in 100 Objects Omnibus, A
History of the World in 100 Objects, A
History of the World Special, A
Hitting the Buffers
Home from Home
Home Planet
Honest Musician's Fear of Accidental Plagiarism, The
House I Grew up In, The
How Did We Get Here...? Egypt
How Dolly Got Rotherham Reading
How to Write a Personal Statement
Human Kind
Hundred Years of Mervyn Peake, A
Hunt for Bin Laden, The
Hunting Haydn's Head
I Love You Bridge, The
I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue
I've Never Seen Star Wars
Ian Blair Years, The
Ice Cream Van Cometh, The
Idea Whose Time Has Come, An
Image of a Troubled Mind
Images That Changed The World
In and Out of the Kitchen
In Business
In Denial - Climate on the Couch
In Doubt We Trust
In Einstein's Shadow
In for the Kill
In Living Memory
In Our Own Image - Evolving Humanity
In Our Time
In Pursuit of Happiness
In Touch
Infinite Monkey Cage, The
Inflamed Response
Inflamed Response
Inside Intuition
Inside the Brain of a Five-Year-Old
Inside The Child Prisons
Inside the Ethics Committee
Inside the IMF
Inside the Virtual Anthill: Open Source Means Business
Interrail Tales
Into the Music Library
Invention of Germany, The
Iran: A Revolutionary State
Iraqi Interpreter's New Home, The
Is Surgery Scientific?
Islam and Science
Island of Secrets, The
Ivory Tower
Jack Jackson: Rhythm and Radio Fun Remembered
James and the Giant Eagle
James and the Giant Tree
Jatropha: The Wonder Plant
Jawbone, The
Jonathan Edwards Looks Into...
Journey of a Lifetime
Jukes - Bad Blood or Bad Science, The
Junior Science
Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats
Keynes Vs. Hayek
King James Bible
Known unto God
Lab and the Mosque, The
Ladies of the Links
Ladies' Man of Opera, The
Landfill Designers, The
Last Chance for Africa's Elephants?
Last Word
Late Nights at the Blue Boar
Law in Action
Lawrence in New Mexico
Leader Conference
Leading Edge
Lebanon: The Next Generation
Leonardo Detectives, The
Les Kelly's Britain
Letters to the Arab World
Letters to the Arab World Omnibus
Liberty, Fraternity, Anarchy - Le Punk Francais
Life Scientific, The
Life With ..., A
Life's Soundtrack
Light Switch Project, The
Linnaeus and the Immorality of Bluebells
Listen Against
Liszt and His Women
Lives in a Landscape
Living with Mother
Living World, The
Lobotomists, The
London Nobody Knows, The
Long View, The
Long Walk, The
Longing for Silence
Loose Ends
Loud Organs His Glory
Luddite Lament, The
Ludwig Koch and the Music of Nature
Lunatic Line, The
Mabey in the Wild
Making History
Making of Modern Medicine, The
Making Tracks
Malmesbury: The Philosophy Town
Marcus du Sautoy's Five Shapes
Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better
Mark Watson's Live Address to the Nation
Material World
Media Show, The
Medicalisation of Normality, The
MI6: A Century in the Shadows
Midnight News
Mind Changers
Mind Myths
Miracle Berry, The
Moats, Mortgages and Mayhem
Moments of Genius
Money Box
Money Box Live
Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus!
Moral Maze
More or Less
Morecambe: Chill Winds on the Bay
Mossad, The
Mr Suzuki's Bach Passion
Museum of Curiosity, The
Music Feature
Music Group, The
Music That Melted, The
My Empire of Dust
Mysterious Mr Mercury, The
Mystery of the Marine Strandings, The
Natural Despots
Natural Genius
New Galileos, The
New Global Economics, The
New Guinea Singing Dog, The
New Hindu Fundamentalists, The
New Scramble for Africa, The
New Silk Road with Roger Law, The
New Two Cultures, The
News and Papers
News and Weather
News Briefing
News from Nowhere: How the Papers Got Their Stories
News Headlines
News Headlines; Shipping Forecast
News Quiz, The
Night Rescue: Saving the Manx Shearwater
No Triumph, No Tragedy
No.219 Sodcast Project, The
Now Show, The
Number One Forensic Detective Agency
Obama: Professor President
Oceans: What Lies Beneath
Off the Page
Oldest Bible, The
On the Ropes
On Your Farm
One to One
Online Damage: Porn in the 21st Century
Open Book
Open Country
Open Source
Opening the Boxes: A Soprano's Secrets
Oscar and Al Pacino
Paddling with Peter Duck
Pain of Emotion, The
Parting Shots
Peas in a Pod
Peer Review in the Dock
People's D-Day, The
Percy and Jock: One Man and His Dog
Percy Edwards Showdown
Peston and the Money Men
Philosopher's Arms, The
Physics Rocks
Pick of the Week
Picture Power: Portraits of Five Leading Press Photographers
Pieces of a Man
Planet Earth Under Threat
Pleistocene Park
Poetry Workshop
Point of View, A
Politics of Dancing: How Disco Changed the World, The
Poorer Than Their Parents
Pope's British Divisions, The
Poppy Factory, The
Power Failure? The Story of the Battery
Power of Om, The
Power to Persuade: The Story of NLP
Prayer for the Day
Prime Ministers, The
Quest for a Cure
Questions, Questions
Radio 4 Appeal
Radio 4 Christmas Appeal
Random Edition
Rattigan Versions, The
Real Spooks, The
Reith Lectures, The
Remembrance of Smells Past
Report, The
Requiem for a Moth
Return of Inspector Steine, The
Return to Vukovar
Reunion, The
Richard Herring's Objective
Rise of Resistance
Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists, The
Rivals, The
Robin and Wendy's Wet Weekends
Roger's Rabbits
Roman Way, The
Round Britain Quiz
Royal Racers and Fascinators
RSC at 50, The
Sacred Election: Lessons from the Biggest Democracy in the World
Saturday Live
Saturday Play
Saturday Review
Save our Seeds
Saving Species
Science Betrayed
Science in the Making
Science: From Cradle to Grave
Scientists Advise, Ministers Decide
Scientists Go To Hollywood
Scientists of the Subprime
Search for Growth, The
Secret Britain
Secret History of Social Networking, The
Secret Life of Reservoirs, The
Secret Museum
Secret Science
Secrets of the Super Old
Selection of BBC World Service Programmes
Sex Test, The
Shipping Forecast
Shipwrecked Bears, The
Simon Singh's Numbers
Simpson in Afghanistan
Simulated Patient, The
Six O'Clock News
Sleep Diaries, The
Slums 101
Smell of Money, The
So You Want To Be an Exorcist
Soft Power Hard News
Something Understood
Sore Fingers
Soul Music
Sound Architecture: The Spaces That Speak
Sounds of Science, The
Spike Milligan - The Serious Poet
Squeezing Victoria's Curves
Stage to Screen
Stanley Baxter Playhouse, The
Start the Week
State of Israel, The
State of Mind
Story of Economics, The
Street Science
Sugaring the Pill
Sun, Spoor and Spots: Counting Namibia's Cheetahs
Sunday Worship
Super Recognisers
Supersize Surgeries
Swedish Invasion, The
Swinging for Survival
Switching Point, The
Sylvie Simmons: The Rock Chick
Taboo be Doo
Tahrir Square
Taking a Stand
Taking Tea with Tyrants
Tales from the Digital Archive
Tales from the Stave
Test Tubes and Tantrums
The Advance of the Giant Crabs
The Age of the Genome
The Archers
The Archers Omnibus
The Archive Hour
The Art Bunker
The Art of Water Music
The Balancing Bluebottle
The Bankers and the Bottom Billion
The Barbershop
The Biggest Radio on Earth
The Bird Fancyer's Delight
The Bottom Line
The British Germans
The Brown Years
The Chambers
The Chaplin Archive
The Chemist of Life and Death
The Chemistry of Addiction
The Chinese Nureyev
The Choice
The Communist Cosmos
The Computer with a Poker Face
The Criminal Mind
The Cuckoo
The Dali Christ
The Defeat of Sleep
The Doctor and Douglas
The E Generation at 40
The Empire of Climate
The Entrepreneur's Wound
The Eureka Years
The Film Programme
The First 1000 Days: A Legacy for Life
The Foghorn: A Celebration
The Freedom Trail
The Great Big Particle Adventure
The Great Game in a Cold Climate: A Tale of Two Cities
The Greening of the Deserts
The Herschel Space Telescope
The Honest Musician's Fear of Accidental Plagiarism
The House I Grew up In
The Hunt for Bin Laden
The I Love You Bridge
The Ian Blair Years
The Ice Cream Van Cometh
The Infinite Monkey Cage
The Invention of Germany
The Iraqi Interpreter's New Home
The Island of Secrets
The Jawbone
The Jukes - Bad Blood or Bad Science
The Lab and the Mosque
The Ladies' Man of Opera
The Landfill Designers
The Leonardo Detectives
The Life Scientific
The Light Switch Project
The Living World
The Lobotomists
The London Nobody Knows
The Long View
The Long Walk
The Luddite Lament
The Lunatic Line
The Making of Modern Medicine
The Media Show
The Medicalisation of Normality
The Miracle Berry
The Mossad
The Museum of Curiosity
The Music Group
The Music That Melted
The Mysterious Mr Mercury
The Mystery of the Marine Strandings
The New Galileos
The New Global Economics
The New Guinea Singing Dog
The New Hindu Fundamentalists
The New Scramble for Africa
The New Silk Road with Roger Law
The New Two Cultures
The News Quiz
The No.219 Sodcast Project
The Now Show
The Oldest Bible
The Pain of Emotion
The People's D-Day
The Philosopher's Arms
The Politics of Dancing: How Disco Changed the World
The Pope's British Divisions
The Poppy Factory
The Power of Om
The Prime Ministers
The Rattigan Versions
The Real Spooks
The Reith Lectures
The Report
The Return of Inspector Steine
The Reunion
The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists
The Rivals
The Roman Way
The RSC at 50
The Search for Growth
The Secret History of Social Networking
The Secret Life of Reservoirs
The Sex Test
The Shipwrecked Bears
The Simulated Patient
The Sleep Diaries
The Smell of Money
The Sounds of Science
The Stanley Baxter Playhouse
The State of Israel
The Story of Economics
The Swedish Invasion
The Switching Point
The Tribes of Science
The Tribes of Science
The Twangmasters: The Art of the Lead Guitarist
The Twilight World of Syd Barrett
The Underwater Gendarme
The Walpole Chronicle
The War Brides Return
The War of the Whales
The Wonder Cure?
The World This Weekend
The World Tonight
The Young Italians
Things We Forgot to Remember
Thinking Allowed
Thought for the Day
Through the Looking Glass
Tiger v Dragon
Tim Key's Suspended Sentence
To Err is Human
Today in Parliament
Too Many Books
Top Deck Tales
Top of the Class
Tracing Your Roots
Traveller's Tree
Tribes of Science, The
Tribes of Science, The
Tulips on the Moon
Turkish Delight?
Twangmasters: The Art of the Lead Guitarist, The
Twilight World of Syd Barrett, The
Twin Sisters, Two Faiths
Type A Meet Type B!
Uncertain Climate
Under Jacques Demy's Umbrella
Underwater Gendarme, The
Unhealthy Wait, An
Unreliable Evidence
View Through a Lens, A
Voices from the Old Bailey
Voodoo Wasps and Zombie Worms
Voyage on Livingstone's Lake, A
Waiting for Independence Day
Walpole Chronicle, The
War Brides Return, The
War of the Whales, The
Warding of the Germs
Warhorses of Letters
Wasting Away in the Outback
Week in Westminster
Westminster Hour
What Happened at Copenhagen?
What the Papers Say
When Hollywood Met Halifax
Who Goes First?
Who Killed the Cockney Sparrer?
Who Needs Scientists?
Who's My Half-Brother? Where's My Half-Sister?
Whose Health Is It Anyway?
Wild Arabia: The Natural History of the Middle East
Wilson, Keppel and Several Bettys
With us or against us
Woman's Hour
Woman's Hour Drama
Wonder Cure?, The
Word of Mouth
World at One
World Heritage: Curse or Blessing?
World On The Move: Great Animal Migrations
World This Weekend, The
World Tonight, The
Wrestling with Words
Xtreme Everest
Yesterday in Parliament
You and Yours
Young Italians, The
Your Desert Island Discs
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Transcribe BBC Radio 4

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Make Radio 4 properly searchable and quotable
You are invited to…

* +1 and/or reshare our page:
* Reshare this proposition post
* Or comment on the proposition in the comments to this inaugural post -- here's the permalink (in case you are reading a reshare):
Add a comment...
Have them in circles
64 people

Transcribe BBC Radio 4

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Tell us what you wanted to find but couldn't
It could be:

1. Something you heard or heard of and wanted to quote
2. A more extensive monologue or discussion or narrative you wanted to read or study in greater depth
3. Some other motivation

It would be preferable if it was to do with Radio 4 specifically but experiences relating to other channels would be interesting too.
Paul Strzoda's profile photoJonathan Schofield's profile photo
I completely agree but it may have to do with Copyright ?
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Transcribe BBC Radio 4

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All the current programmes for Radio 4 as of 11th November 2011.
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Have them in circles
64 people
Make Radio 4 properly searchable and quotable with transcripts
This is a Google+ Page ‘campaign’ experiment by Jonathan Schofield. I don’t plan to post much here. I simply ask that if you agree with the following then: 
  • +1 this page (or add it to one of your Circles)
  • Reshare our proposition post
  • Share your experience of trying to find something you'd heard said or wanted to research
.  .  .  .  .

Where we are now

Radio 4 is wonderful. But ever heard something on it and then wanted to find it later? Ever realised how difficult that is and how unlikely it is that you’ll find what you are looking for?

Web search is still dependent upon text and the vast majority of what gets broadcast never makes it into searchable text. Instead, we’re stuck with:
  1. What the BBC marketing departments tell us on their pages
  2. What journalists and listeners publish in response to these pages and the programmes themselves
  3. A paltry set of transcripts available historically and on request
We’re also stuck with BBC iPlayer only giving us 7 days’ access to the Radio 4 broadcasting schedule (and it having limited non-UK availability). Apparently this is due to copyright reasons but it’s probably also down to a need to keep hosting costs down (the BBC doesn’t have virtually boundless resources like Google) and to the value that is created by deliberate scarcity.

But I suggest the BBC could do better by exploiting auto transcription software.

.  .  .  .  .

Where we could be

Isn’t the time ripe for something akin to the eBook revolution of searchable text to come to radio?

Auto transcribing has been around for a while. It’s far from flawless but it’s getting better all the time. YouTube offers it, for example.

I propose that Radio 4 should auto transcribe any of its output that cutting edge speech recognition software is reasonably up the task of (we are surely further on than this 2008 Guardian article), and to make the transcripts publicly accessible and searchable because:
  • They don’t have to be perfect to be useful.
  • Transcribing errors could be suitably disclaimed to cover legalities (and perhaps there could be a Wikipedia like collaborative effort from the public to make corrections)
  • The hosting requirements of text transcriptions would be exponentially smaller than audio files
Even if the transcripts had to be limited to 7 day access like iPlayer they would still be invaluable.

.  .  .  .  .

Why just Radio 4?

Couldn’t this approach in theory be applied to all broadcast output? Well yes, but I think Radio 4’s programming is particularly suited as a testing ground.

.  .  .  .  .

Add your voice

If you agree, just +1 this +Page or reshare our proposition. If not, say why. If you have tried to search for something on radio and not found it, share your experience.