My iPhone has replaced/displaced a lot of gadgets and habits in my life, one of them being listening to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme in the mornings on a small radio that I carried with me as I shuffled around the house getting ready to go to work.
As I couldn’t get the live feed over the web, listening to podcasts on the iPhone speakers kind of took over from that. All well and good, but I’ve always missed the Today programme.
So I’m delighted to have found a way to listen live again. Here’s how:
Download the free FStream application (search “fstream” on the iTunes store. It’s a French app, but don’t lt the language put you off if you don’t speak it.
Copy one of the following URLs from bbcstreams.com (bizarrely I couldn’t do it from that website on the iPhone, hence replicating them here).
Open Fstream and tap on “Favorites” then “Edit” then “Add new webradio”.
Add the name of the station, paste the URL in the appropriate box and ut MP3 in the format box (the bitrate is 128 but I don’t tink you need to fill that bit in).
Stream happily for a few days and if you love it then go to the donation link in FStream (More/Donate) – NB: bbcstreams.com also survives on donations, so maybe split your donation if you really love it.
If you’re even slightly non-technical you may not know what an API is. Basically it’s a way of letting anyone who wants to take Guardian content (headlines, copy, images, video) as it is published and do something different with it.
It makes its content more portable, more shareable, more distributable.
It means The Guardian has taken the limits off of its own content, the limits of what it can think to do with it, and of what can happen on its own site. Feeds from its content will be fed into the most groundbreaking, gamechanging ideas of the next few years (and some duff ones too).
One of Jeff Jarvis’s colleagues describes the move as putting its content “into the fabric of the internet.”
This is a bold move, but one that shows the web literacy of the Guardian Media Group: it understands thefundamentals of being a brand in networks, that it is best served by being in the networks, making itself as useful as possible. It’s just taken the logical next… leap.
All well and good – neither organisation is beholden to a quarterly P&L. The Guardian’s a trust and the BBC is a publicly funded (and generously so) corporation. Makes you think that maybe companies that aren’t for profit are the ones who stand the best chance of surviving the gear crunch of adapting to the web. Maybe traditional commercial models aren’t going to be as good at surviving when it comes to media?
Apart from trusts and public money, the other players in the media mix are the brands. They used to fund the media through advertising mostly, but now will be direct players. How many of them would win in the attention markets by releasing data through APIs like this? Insurance companies have giga-wotsits of useful information. So do publishers, so do pharma companies, so do most people.
If you could, what data from your organisation would put out through an API tomorrow?
Media Guardian carries a timely analysis of some of the discussion of Twitter informing, in some cases becoming part of, the coverage of the terrorist attrocities in Mumbai.
It picks up on a blog post by Steve Herman, editor of the BBC News website:
As for the Twitter messages we were monitoring, most did not add a great amount of detail to what we knew of events, but among other things they did give a strong sense of what people connected in some way with the story were thinking and seeing. “Appalled at the foolishness of the curious onlookers who are disrupting the NSG operations,” wrote one. “Our soldiers are brave but I feel we could have done better,” said another. There was assessment, reaction and comment there and in blogs. One blogger’s stream of photos on photosharing site Flickr was widely linked to, including by us.
All this helped to build up a rapidly evolving picture of a confusing situation.
Where Twitter added to the understanding of what was happening for a reader of news, was the emotional immediacy. There were voices of people like me, on Twitter, shouting out loud about the horror happening around them.
It brought Mumbai closer. That’s a good thing, because the whole world needs to feel closer to events like these, the more likely for people to act in small choices and large to fight against religious fundamentalism and zealotry.
Should we have checked this before reporting it? Made it clearer that we hadn’t? We certainly would have done if we’d wanted to include it in our news stories (we didn’t) or to carry it without attribution. In one sense, the very fact that this report was circulating online was one small detail of the story that day. But should we have tried to check it and then reported back later, if only to say that we hadn’t found any confirmation? I think in this case we should have, and we’ve learned a lesson. The truth is, we’re still finding out how best to process and relay such information in a fast-moving account like this.
More rumour, more noise, more information, more pitfalls: that’s what the continued onward march of social media means for news organisations.
It’s not a new challenge for the Beeb, as a news organisation that puts accuracy and fact above rumour. Twitter just adds a host of potential sources to the mix during a breaking news story.
I wrote about this a few years ago in post called Rumour or Raw Data, during the pre-Twitter age if you can remember that, when the then Metropolitan Poolic Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said he instinctively turned on Sky News when the first news of the London tube bombings reached him.
In the heat of the moment, our instinct says I would rather have the unfiltered news, with the risks of inaccuracies and misinformation, than be late to hear. But – and it’s a significant but – you always want the option of a flight to fact: and that fact is usually found on the BBC,
The BBC is right to resist falling the Sky News of the line. That’s its role: to tell us what the truth is, when it is as sure as it can be what the truth is.