BBC Offers Wealth of Content for Mash-ups

The broadcaster's Backstage site allows developers to post prototypes for reusing content. Most popular mash-up partner: Google

The BBC's developer network is using Google-based mash-ups to brighten up the Beeb's websites.

One-third of the prototypes hosted on - where developers can post ideas and prototypes for reusing Auntie's content in new and interesting ways - are mash-ups with Google Maps or other Google apps.

Matthew Cashmore, BBC Backstage producer, said a lot of the content on the BBC website has a geographical element - such as the traffic and travel news - and this sort of content fits well within a Google Maps mash-up.

Cashmore added a prototype mash-up of the BBC's traffic and travel data using Google Maps has been popular on the Backstage site.

Other novel apps appearing on Backstage include a Second Life mash-up, where BBC news appears on boards within the virtual world - similar to those seen in real-life railway stations.

Although is more of an ideas forum than a commercial entity, some of the suggestions and prototypes posted on the site have come to fruition - such as the homepage archive site.

The site - which provides an online archive of all the BBC homepages from 14 July 2005 onwards - was developed independently for the BBC and now sits on the corporation's main website.

Speaking at the Google Developer Day in London, Cashmore said five years ago the BBC would have run screaming at the idea of using third party software.

But, he added, the BBC realised it could no longer "sit on a pedestal" and ignore what developers were saying.

The Backstage website was launched in response to the 2004 Graf Report of BBC Online, which said the Beeb should commit to using open standards and support social innovation by encouraging users to build sites and projects.

Auntie has been trying to get more tech-savvy of late and recently screened an episode of The Money Programme inside Second Life.