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Tech’ news in brief: BBC, Google and Nasa

BBC moves to file-sharing sites

Hundreds of episodes of BBC programmes will be made available on a file-sharing network for the first time, the corporation has announced.The move follows a deal between the commercial arm of the organisation, BBC Worldwide, and technology firm Assures

The new deal means that users of the software will be able to download high-quality versions of BBC programmes, including Red Dwarf, Doctor Who and the League of Gentleman. Classic series such as Fawlty Towers will also be available through a BBC ‘channel’.”

What I want to know is, given that the BBC is making good money out of selling content around the world, content produced with British license payers’ money, just when do we get a reduction in our license fee?

OK, rant over.

Yes, this looks like a pretty good arrangement. And with the BBC exploring new venues for the distribution of our content, this deal seems timely and right on button, in terms of technology.

Despite my dad and me both complaining at the quality of TV over here, I still keep getting told by friends abroad that British television is the best in the world.

NASA Takes Google on Journey into Space

As press releases go, after wading through the usually ‘blah, blah’ I found myself no closer to what the deal between Google and Nasa entails.

And vague, nondescript examples such as the one given by Google chief executive officer, Eric Schmidt, do not help:

“Imagine having a wide selection of images from the Apollo space mission at your fingertips whenever you want it. That’s just one small example of how this collaboration could help broaden technology’s role in making the world a better place.”

That’s also a really weak example. I’m sure a much more enticing, better example could have been given than an addendum to Google Images library.

Fortunately, we have PC World at hand to bring some detail to the Google-Nasa deal:

“Google and NASA today announced the signing of the Space Act Agreement, which calls for them to collaborate on making it easy for people to find weather visualization and forecasting data, see high-resolution 3-D maps of the moon and Mars and track, in real time, the International Space Station and the space shuttle.

Chris Kemp, Ames’ director of business development, said NASA’s intention is not to hand over data to Google, but rather put in place the technology mechanisms that will make that data accessible to Google and others. ‘We’re going to be publishing this data where we can, using open XML standards. This is a new way of doing business for NASA,’ Kemp said.”

That last part caught my eye because if I’d seen ‘exclusive deal’ then I’d have disregarded the part that says: “NASA’s intention is not to hand over data to Google, but rather put in place the technology mechanisms that will make that data accessible to Google and others.”

More specifically the part that says: “data accessible to Google and others.” Which brings me right back to the beginning of the press release where it says: “memorandum of understanding” and leaves me thinking to myself: “Just what is a ‘memorandum of understanding’ anyway?”

Look out for Google moving quickly to make the most of this before the other search engines get invited to the deal too…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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