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Thursday, 20 March 2008

Postscript: BBC video embedding

Oh yey of little faith ... my comments on the BBC Internet blog about embedding video have (had) appeared. I took the '502' error to mean failure but, natch, there's the comment after all as I think 'I wonder if anyone else got through with this point ... ' And there's the response from John O'Donovan to my point, and the same from others:
You will be able to embed video on other sites but we need to work out some issues with how this will work. In particular, you may not be aware that the player has to support advertising when someone is using it outside the UK and also has to restrict some content to UK users only. This causes a few complications, but rest assured, it will be possible to link to and embed video directly. We will take on feedback about how this user journey works to ensure it is as seamless as possible based on your comments.
That's excellent, I had assumed just those sorts of issues as others like Viacom have them, and it's also excellent that the BBC team is responding and - clearly - listening to those of us who want to help/contribute. There is frustration, of course, in some of the feedback you read but that's most people's motive. It's certainly mine.

A bow to the Beeb's web team. And an object lesson for Channel 4/ITV in how to build a better website and user experience, though the bean-counters aren't listening ...

As they roll this out, it's also really good for the BBC internationally, provided that those restrictions to just UK aren't enormous, that their newsclips will enjoy a much wider and easier circulation. Bloggers can already do this but it's really quite difficult to get something from TV to YouTube and most would rely on an intermediary's choices.

I can imagine those clips appearing and being seen by a lot more people in places like Egypt, where blogging is the civil society opposition, for example. A news clip about shantytowns outside LA is currently getting viral attention (more BBC virals). But it will spin out in ways I can only guess at — I think this is a much bigger moment in the Beeb's web development than many may realise.

With the 502 'comment failure' on their blogs, I should note that listening happened here as well. On page, they now have the following:
On occasion, you may experience problems when leaving a comment. We are working on a solution to this - you can find more details here.
What hasn't changed is the actual 502 error message: it's the standard, across site one. Here's why:
The problem is that with the way the system is set up, making changes to the interface across the current platform is a labour-intensive job.
Which I understand. What I would say is to wonder whether another system, more human than technical, might be at fault in why the 502 error became and stays so user-unfriendly ("a server error ..") in the first place.

One last comment on Beeb matters. I absolutely love the new homepage. I can see it's been tested to destruction - the architecture is brilliant. What struck me first was: the end of everything 'above the fold' and the change to mass scrolling behaviour recognised; radio given more prominence, TV less. It marks the complete death of any trace of 'brochure' site design. Hurrah. Now if they could just do something about the site search ...

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