Old news gets a creative makeover

A content treatment that caught my eye recently was the website What happened in my birth year – a mash-up from Phillipp Lenssen using Wikipedia and other sources and assembled under Creative Commons licences.

Dipping into news events and populist culture ranging across music, film and TV – albeit with an American skew – it tickers through some of the key events in an individual’s lifetime.

The ticker roll-rate is annoyingly slow, but you get the idea.

The BBC has the history of Britain on its shelves – probably one of the world’s greatest audio and video collections – which needs Government money or a Bill Gates/ Paul Allen act of philanthropy to unlock.

Tens of thousands of hours of tape need to be digitised, classified, metatagged and mapped, a task so huge it’s beyond the capabilities of the BBC alone.

For historians and educators it’s a priceless resource and it properly belongs in the public domain.  If the rights issues can be resolved – and that’s far from trivial – the value to us all is inestimable.

Some pieces have been cleared and you can see them here


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