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The news article as an object

Meta information and tags
Since we started with the concept of EN we had a certain idea of what it would be like. Now we have the first working version the possibilities seem endless, but what is the killer application or function? What is it that gives new options to the things we do with news?

In this post I’m just thinking out loud and writing down some thoughts. Please share your ideas or fallacies you see in my thoughts.

In News presentation we see the article as an article. It’s a finished story. On a news website, newspaper or television broadcasts we present a collection articles and items. These articles are also objects. Finished stories presenting a near live experience, but not live.

For the presentation and sorting of these objects news media are using a few options.
1. We show it by editorial selection (the far most popular by newspapers, television and news websites).
2. We show it sorted on time (often combined with the first)
3. We show the article list sorted on popularity (often somewhere on an extra page or column)

This works very well. We are used to see a pre-selection made from all the information and from this selection we choose the things we like. News reading is scanning through a pre-selection made by editors.

But the object (article) itself has a very interesting set of meta-information. This is what we potentially know about, and can extract from an article on EN.nl.

Tags, time published, pageviews, updates, incoming links, comments, votes (1-4), urgency levels (1-3), edits, editors, editors popularity, dateline (geocoordinates), related articles, favorites, pictures, videos, hyperlinks

This is information we know about each article. It is metadata connected to the object. What can we do with this information? Obviously presenting the news is critical for a news website, but the added value is in the selection made by editors. Why do these selections work so well? A selection by editors is based on the values of the presenter (newspaper) and often focus extra on certain aspects of the news. Left, right, popular, politics, celebrity, sports, art…

Most news media present the same facts. Is it the hierarchy and presentation that really counts? Is it what you show or don’t show that adds value? Is it what you’re friends read and what you can talk about with them? Do you go to certain websites for coverage about certain items? Are it the extra stories that add value? Are it writing skills? Is it the fast coverage?

Adding relevancy and new value
How can we make the selection and the sorting of objects (articles) more relevant to your needs? Should we ask you what you like? Should we track what you read? Should we ask you social profile? Should we ask your social network? Should we do things with your location? Should we read the tagging you did on your blog, del.ico.us, flickr and youtube and use this to determine what you like? Should we make your music taste count, the weather or how you feel today?

I think news is social by itself. We want to be able to talk about it with friends. Serious news, but also weird or funny news, sports and celebrities. Every real-life social network connects to certain news media. Your friends are often reading the same newspaper or same websites.

Would you be interested in what news your social network reads? Or your favorite bloggers? If you look at articles as if they are objects with metadata you can think up a lot of new ideas and possibilities. But what does really add extra and new value to presenting the news?

4 replies on “The news article as an object”

Thanks for your comment and the link. I have seen Jyri talk two times, his ideas about social objects are smart and he knows how to explain complex things.

Do you think news can be a social object that connects people?

For example DIGG isn’t really a network. The hyperlink is the social object, but there isn’t much networking happening.

I think news can be seen as a social object that connects people. I’m still thinking about how to design a simple and valuable service that adds extra value to news (sorting).

News can be a social object. In my case I want two types of news. News based on the things I am interested in (based on my online profile / identity) and I am interested in Breaking News.

So I want a service that shows the above news(feed) chronological. A mix of FriendFeed and Mixx.

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