Last week I spent two interesting days at the BBC's #newsHACK event at Shoreditch Town Hall in London. The BBC have recently started to open up APIs to a lot of useful indexing and annotation work that they have been doing and this event was aimed at getting news organizations and other interested parties using some of the APIs to produce interesting tech demos.

Our team consisted of Ian Roberts, Dominic Rout and myself from the University of Sheffield and Helen Lippell from the Press Association. We were kind of the odd ones out as our expertise centres around processing large amounts of text to expose interesting information and to make that searchable or useable in some way; which is exactly what some of the BBC APIs already did. None of us claim to be great user interface peopel so there was no point us trying to generate a really fancy interface over the BBC APIs. In the end we decided that we would play to our strengths and so our demo (which you can go and play with) tried to go one step further than the existing BBC APIs by using the power of Mímir to allow for complex searches over text, annotations and Linked Open Data to allow journalists a deeper view into the news archive when writing a story. One of our examples (that seemed to go down well) was; imagine you are writing a story about a CEO who has just been given a £5m bonus and you want to find other people who have been awarded more in the past.

Our demo didn't win any of the categories but we certainly didn't embarrass ourselves and there were some really good ideas presented. It's worth looking at the list of hacks as some of them have really cool demos you can play with.


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