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Olympics 2012

Enhancing the BBC's news and sports coverage with an ontology-driven information architecture

In Tim Berners Lee’s original proposal for the web (retrieved from he gave us the basic ingredients to build the web of documents as we experience it today. Due to its simplicity, the web became a victim of its own success as we were soon overwhelmed. At this point information architects were employed to group together documents into manageable piles using a variety of techniques to group sets of documents. The problem with this approach is that if we start out focusing on documents, our sites turn out document-centric and this is not how users think about the world. People are interested in things not documents.

This leads us to move away from a document-orientated approach to web development to a thing-focused one, and with this move comes the need for new tools and approaches to information architecture. This includes the use of domain-driven design to understand the things and relationships in a problem space and the use of open linked data sources to populate these models. This will be illustrated with case studies from the BBC’s Wildlife Finder and the World Cup project.

In summary semantic web-like thinking changes the way we build web sites. Firstly it focuses us on real-world things and the relationships between them, secondly it introduces a culture of building with open vocabularies to add context and links that create richer, more useful and more findable digital products.

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