Something new in News
Monday, October 22, 2007 by Dave Winer.
News is not exactly new technology, but when personal computers came along, and then widespread networking, it created a whole new playing field for news, that has shaken things up for most of my life. Change comes in fits at starts. First there was the web, then RSS, and now I think we're on the cusp of another bit of change.
If you want to see what I think it looks like, check out the home page of nytimesriver.com. But that's not the end of the story. A flat completely chronologic view of news probably isn't enough. And earlier this month at a meeting in NY, two engineers at the NY Times set me off in a new direction, with a very simple bit of advice. They told me to look in the HTML source code of their stories. When I did I saw they had applied a taxonomy to their news flow, and this opened the door to what I would like to show you today -- an outline view of the news.
In a previous rendering, the stories were shown in a histogram, but this view I think is much better. You can still see how many pieces relate to the indicated topic, but by clicking on the plus next to each topic, you can actually see the headlines and descriptions, and if you want more you can click through to the full stories. (Initially, the outline was sorted by frequency, with the most frequently occurring keyword appearing first. I changed it, based on feedback, to be alphabetic.)
Now, there's still more to do, I showed this to a number of people during the weekend and got some excellent clues on ideas to pursue next, and I will do that. Further, in the process of exploring this, I've been shown the work of other developers who discovered the keywords on their own, and one in particular is very interesting. I'm hoping that these projects will come public so I can show them to you and tell you what I think they mean.
This is what I live for, professionally -- the sense of being somewhere with great unexplored potential, a virgin landscape of the intellect. I'm never happier than when I get to play in such a place.
Dan Gillmor: "Dave Winer has been exploring a superb news resource, exploring the depth and breadth of the New York Times‘ data-stream."
Bijan Sabet: Dave's River of News.
Scott Rosenberg: Remixing news.
Om Malik: A new way to view news.
Please comment on the screen shot page.