Over the past few years, we've been observing discourse in society break down and degrade in quality. With the increased emphasis on "fake news" - in all of its dimensions - the conversation seems to be becoming increasingly polluted and it's becoming harder to separate truth from spin. It also seems like journalism as an established industry contributes to this pollution and spin problem more than it helps. We want to create a crowdsourced platform where people can decide on what topics are relevant, how different outlets are covering this topic, and the aggregate quality of articles. Just as books, movies, music, and businesses have crowdsourced ratings from ordinary people all over the globe, AntiSpin could provide the same to journalism to encourage quality and ethical reporting. It is important that we improve the quality of our conversations, our sense-making organs, and our personal abilities to figure out the world. If we can even slightly positively impact this by seeing through this project, it will be worth it. There is a long road ahead but we are very excited about the possibilities.
What it does
For this rough proof of concept, we have created a mockup of a home page and topic pages. The topic pages list news outlets (by topic) that have editable ratings, based on coverage of said topic. A user can add a rating to an outlet, and the average number, as well as a visual representation of it, updates on the page.
How we built it
For the first 1.5 hours, we brainstormed what pages the site should have, and the general layout of each page. Over the next 3-4 hours, we used html to create a rough layout of the home and topic pages, to give us something to work with. From there, we divided our efforts by working independently on a) the presentation and b) user input and average ratings logic.
Challenges we ran into
Task division, merging our work, time. Planning how to delegate tasks for both of us to be most efficient definitely required some thought. When we were working on multiple files, there were some logistic issues with merging code that took time to work around. In addition, the short time we had to work on this was both a benefit and a challenge. We had to set goals wisely and have an accurate understanding of our abilities, keeping the time in mind. On the other hand though, the limited time frame is a great motivator and improved our productivity significantly. Without it, I doubt that we would have gotten as much done. So in that respect - time was both a challenge and a motivator.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We finished on time and met all of our goals! We planned to look into how to create users for websites, but that will have to be a task for another time. However, we have a basic, intuitive website layout that takes input data, calculates average ratings for outlets, and updates visuals to reflect the new ratings.
What we learned
What's next for AntiSpin
Now that we've started this, we plan on improving our product further by adding the ability to create user accounts, greatly improving the UI, implementing an ability for users to add outlets and topics in addition to voting on them. Those are the high-level things. We made a whole list of interesting features and functionality that we would like to get to. We signed up to nwHacks and hope to push this even further next time around, with a product that we've improved drastically over Christmas break. Depending on where we are, we will choose one or two features to work on, and implement them.