We have different ways of consuming news and we are not entirely happy with them. There is a lot of repetition and little control over how we consume news.
Problems in UX spill over into issues with news recommendations and creation of information bubbles. Measuring our interest in news is still one of the hardest things.
This project is about creating a new way to interact with the news and giving a gamified incentive to expand person's knowledge horizon.
What it does
Our solution delivers news articles on a map. You start the application on a world map showing global news. The more you zoom into a region, the more localized the presented news articles become.
At the same time reading articles around the globe will lift what we call "the fog of ignorance". But beware, with time it covers the earth again.
How we built it
We first found a source for news and a framework to present information in a map. We considered multiple options, static data sets, as well as different APIs, and we have selected Microsoft Azure's Bing Search API.
As a solution for the map component, we gauged Google Maps and MapBox. We opted for MapBox rather quickly, as it seemed to be more versatile, providing multitude of options to display information in additional layers.
Depending on the zoom level we identify all relevant places and select what news to search for. Then we present these news items.
We record how many articles were read for each country and decrease the opacity of the overlay. After a given time the opacity gradually increases again.
Challenges we ran into
It is much more difficult than we could have expected to properly place news items directly on the map without additional interactions. This cost us great amount of time and frustration.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
To have a working prototype that implements our core ideas.
What we learned
One can do great many things with maps, but dynamic information placement is more difficult than it should be.
What's next for news-traveller
We would like to add more layers with continent, region and city specific news. For better news selection we will add some topic filters and give users the opportunity to give article feedback in two dimensions, whether the article contained new information and whether they enjoyed the read. Based on that we will help the user to get a view on topics, authors and regions that they enjoy.
Another area for development is the matching of regions and news articles and having multiple "fogs of ignorance" for the different layers and not only on the country level (continents, regions, cities).
Let's unveil the secrets of this world one story at a time!