The BBC has launched an ambitious project to log and digitise its entire output since its launch in 1923.
That project has kicked off with a comprehensive listing of every single TV programme and radio show broadcast by the corporation. The BBC Genome project has digitised and posted online all of the Radio Times listings, incorporating 4.42 million programme records, published between 1923 and 2009.
The next phase, according to a recent BBC blog post on the matter, is to add the broadcasts themselves. This is a huge undertaking, as you can imagine.
“It’s one of the most important steps we’re taking to begin unlocking the BBC’s archive,” says BBC Archive editor Hilary Bishop, “as Genome is the closest we currently have to a comprehensive broadcast history of the BBC.”
However, the BBC needs your help. In the process of scanning in all of the listings using an Optical Character Recognition system, a number of errors have inevitably occurred. These include “punctuation in the wrong places, spaces where there shouldn’t be any or no spaces where there should, as well as fundamental misunderstandings about who did what,” explains Bishop.
As such, users can submit edits to the BBC Genome website, which will then be checked out by the team and published once approved.
There’s also a Tell Us More section for users to add insight on the BBC’s historical library.
Perhaps the biggest case of viewer participation is yet to come, though. As the BBC matches up these Radio Times listings with the content it has in its archives, it will inevitably find gaps – whether through missing or damaged originals. It will want users to check these gaps and contribute any recordings they made at the time so as to build a complete picture of the BBC’s output.
Better start digging out those old VHS tapes from the loft, then.