The BBC is showing off its experimental side with the new website BBC Taster.
Dedicated to using the BBC’s content and archive in new and interactive ways, it will offer unfinished experiments for public view. The Tasters will be featured for a limited time, at present around three months. If users like them, they can rate them, and the corporation will take this reaction into account when considering future projects.
Included in the 16 initial toys on offer this morning are Your Story, a Facebook style timeline that trawls the BBC News Archives for significant moments in your life; R1OT, which pitches fans against each other in social media voting battle; and Strax News: in which the Doctor Who sidekick takes you through the history of the Time Lord in an interactive, wibbly wobbly way, allowing fans to get more information about different subject as the video plays.
While this and Nature’s Weirdest Events with Chris Packham are essentially a Wikipedia binge in video form –encouraging you to click on link after link until you forget where you originally started– other Tasters go deeper into a single subject.
When Len met Jen is a 40 minute long interview between Lena Dunham and Jennifer Saunders. Originally recorded for a short Newsnight piece, the entire discussion has been posted and chopped up into DVD-style chapters (‘Don’t Pap Me’, ‘Saggy Tats’) allowing users to skip through at will.
So-called ‘beta testing’, when customers get early access to software in order to help the developers find issues, is common in the tech world. Minecraft, the world-conquering video game, was officially in beta for years.
Nevertheless, it’s a bold move from the BBC. While previous BBC Experiments like Playlister and even iPlayer were released to the public in non-final but pretty complete states, Taster offers them at a much earlier stage of development. That means they won’t work on every platform, and they’re not quite…stable.
The website warns that these are ‘experimental experiences’, and a BBC staffer introduced one Taster (voice control for the BBC News website) with the warning that “It’s the one most likely to break. No, wait, not that…”
“It flies closest to the sun?” RadioTimes.com offers.
“Yes, that. That sounds much better. What you said.”
Also demonstrated at the launch event were some R&D experiments too experimental even for Taster, including virtual reality footage of last summer’s Commonwealth games.
RadioTimes.com would love to give you some impressions, but we broke the headset.
It was pretty embarrassing.
Try out BBC Taster here