When journalists first began using Flash to produce multimedia stories, it changed the way news could be displayed. Hyperlinks and long blocks of text still exist (in a much cleaner form), but they are now supplemented by the new form of storytelling. The following news aggregators are the next step in the visualization of news and how users will interact with content in the future.
1. the photo stream
Instead of displaying the news as a series of headlines and links, the photo stream simply displays news photos aligned in a eye-pleasing grid. Hovering over a photo will display the full headline; clicking on the bubble icon takes users to the comment section where they can discuss the story on the photo stream site; clicking the arrow will direct the user to the story’s original source. Using the site is intuitive and easier on the eyes.
There are multiple ways of digesting the news at Newser, but the centerpiece of the site is its tiled news headlines. Photos dominate each box and when each is moused over, more detailed information about the news story pops up. Newser’s most admirable feature is its toggler which brings up harder or softer news stories, depending on the user’s preference. For example, hard news stories today concerned the Iowa floods and the stock market while soft news stories included narratives about prom and cuddling chimps.
MSNBC.com has taken its RSS feeds and turned it into Spectra, a visual newsreader that adds a little color to the news. Spectra likely gets its name from the different news categories that line the top of the browser in a rainbow-colored spectrum. Users select their topic or topics of interest from such categories as politics, entertainment or sports. The stories are then pulled into an orbiting collection of squares. The interface is simple, but still takes a minute or so to get used to. Nevertheless, it is a lot more fun than reading the news in a normal RSS reader.
NewsWorldMap mashes up a full browser Google map of the world with Google News and GeoNames to create an interactive way of searching for news in a specific country. The latest news headlines for countries around the world are available in seconds by simply clicking on the location. Because the headlines are culled from Google News, there are a variety of news sources represented on the site.
5. Visual Dictionary Online
Unlike the previous sites, Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary Online isn’t a news aggregator, but it is a different way of understanding the concepts behind news stories. For example, someone watching Tuesday night’s NBA finals could get a better understanding of the game by searching for basketball player positions or even an interactive graphic of a basketball player with links to further definitions. The Visual Dictionary isn’t just limited to sports; the site contains interactive graphics for everything from portable sound systems to crustaceans to Stone Age weapons.
10×10 is an old standby, but remains every bit as impressive since its launch several years ago. The interactive site displays the news in a ten by ten grid of photos. Each photo represents a news subject and clicking will bring up stories about said subject. Dig a little deeper and you can find a visual representation of the news of every hour, every day, and every month of the last four years.
If all this talk of newspapers going the way of the dodo bird makes you clutch the printed product even closer, the Times newsreader wants to ease your pain. The virtual newspaper seeks to mimic the feeling of flipping through pages and is highly customizable, according to its vendor. Bad news is it is available for Mac OS X Leopard only, which means it has gone untested by this PC-using journalist.
LiveNewsCameras.com has done an amazing job of culling a great number of live web broadcasts from around the world. The site enables visitors to find out the weather in Philly and seconds later watch live news feeds from Sky Italy. It’s additional live features — an ongoing chat in the site’s sidebar and an embeddable live newscast created by site producers — makes LiveNewsCameras a go to stop for any news enthusiast.
Need more news? You can find seven more news visualizations at this previous 10,000 Words post.