Phew! We’ve been busy these last three weeks! From commission to launch in just 12 working days (and nights), Dharmafly has built a site for the BBC that explores social media and cutting edge Web technologies…
The Bangladesh River Journey is a mashup of posts from a BBC World Service trip to track the effects of climate change in Bangladesh. The trip lasts a month, with photos being posted to Flickr, messages sent to Twitter and journal entries made on the World Service site. The mashup puts all these posts on to a map, letting you navigate around and follow the trip.
The journalists are equipped with a GPS navigation device. Each time they visit a new location, they post their co-ordinates to the Twitter stream (e.g. this post). Our system then logs the coordinates and applies them to every photo, tweet and diary entry until the next location.
In addition to what you see in the browser, there are a number of gems hidden under the hood: microformats, geoRSS and an API. (Non-techie folk may happily skip this and proceed straight to comments :)
Microformats are new, developing standards for adding extra meaning to the HTML of a web page. They create all sorts of possibilities for software (from search engines to browsers) to interact with the content in innovative and useful ways.
The HTML for each Twitter, Flickr and diary post in the Bangladesh River Journey is written using the hAtom microformat. This means, for example, that an RSS feed can be generated directly from the HTML on the page.
If you use the Firefox browser, you can explore other microformats on the Bangladesh Boat site, with the excellent Operator extension. You’ll find xFolk bookmarks, geo locations, hCalendar events, hCard contacts, xoxo lists and tagged links:
Part of the task was to build an API – a way for web developers to access the data in the system, to create their own mashup applications. This will be promoted through BBC Backstage – the BBC’s hub for exploring new media technology. More about this soon…
Update: The Bangladesh River Journey API is now live on BBC Backstage. Inspired by Google’s addition of a Greasemonkey API to Gmail (via), we added an experimental Greasemonkey API to the Bangladesh River Journey site.
Dharmafly & the BBC
It has been fantastic working with the BBC crew. Everyone has shown their good-nature and team-spirit… and nothing but excitement for exploring new forms of media in reporting events that matter to the world.
Our own team was:
- Annesley, who authored the rock-solid PHP / XSL back-end
- Pete, who scripted the water-tight CSS theme
- Mikel, who contributed mapping strategy and the out-of-the-box balloons
Update: This Project Won Awards
14th May, 2008