What could news look like? Cool visual tools

A picture is worth 10,000 words… especially if you can play with it! This week I’m in Los Angeles, where I’ll be leading a group presentation on online interactive and visual tools that can make news, stories, and context more vivid and compelling than ever. Also presenting are:

  • Mark S. Luckie, the multimedia journalist behind the killer blog 10000words.net. He’s also associate producer for EW.com/Entertainment Weekly and former online producer for the Los Angeles Times and Contra Costa Times.
  • Don Wittekind, assistant professor in the visual communication sequence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Our session is part of American Tapestry: Covering a Changing America” — an event at the Knight Digital Media Center for the leaders of the News21 project. The participants are mostly journalism educators who use this project to give new journalists multimedia experience. Our goal in this session is to show them cutting-edge and unusual tools to spark their — and their students’ — imaginations.

Here’s what we’ll cover…

First, I’ll talk about these tools:

  • Gigapan: Amazingly interactive, detailed photographs you can really get into — and the community that makes and loves them. (More about Gigapan)
  • ManyEyes: A free online library of tools from IBM that help you visually explore all kinds of data and information. You can share and embed your visualizations.(More about ManyEyes)
  • Silobreaker: This Europe-based news aggregator uses semantic web technology, including visual interfaces, to make news more relevant and fun to explore — and thus, more compelling and useful. (More about Silobreaker)
  • Envirovote: This Medill News21 project tracked the potential enviromental impact of the 2008 elections — in real time, while the elections were happening. Developer Brian Boyer says that building the visual aspects of this site took just a bit of HTML on top of Python/Django. “The coding for the chart graphics took just 10 minutes. Actually, calculating the percent green on the chart is harder than drawing it on screen! The code that creates the numbers took several hours.” More Envirovote info from Boyer and co-developer Ryan Mark.

…After that, Don Wittekind will cover immersive mulitmedia. He says: “True interactivity is unique to the Web. TV can’t do it. Print cant’ do it. Radio can’t do it. So if News21 is going to lead the way, we have to do it!

“Adobe Flash can do much more than slide shows and slick animations. Flash allows journalists with a little programming knowledge create immersive experiences that allow viewers to become part of the story. I’m pushing the concept of interactivity in the form of calculators and simulators. So the actual tool is Adobe Flash ActionScript, but my presentation will be about why we should be creating highly immersive projects.”

See Don’s examples.

…Then Mark Luckie will wrap up our demos with:

  • Mapbuilder: Rapid mashup tool for Google Maps and Yahoo Maps
  • Dipity: Interactive timeline tol that organizes updates from sites like YouTube, WordPress, Twitter, and 7500 news sites into “channels.”
  • Intersquash: Tools for building iPhone-optimized sites
  • Widgetbox: Popular widget directory and gallery. You don’t have to build everything yourself!

3 thoughts on What could news look like? Cool visual tools

  1. Pingback: » Blog Archive » links for 2008-12-06

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