It’s always good to come across interesting new initiatives to innovate on the newsreporting and media space by local tech people. A recent such initiative is by Asim Imtiaz, who recently launched Newsbreak – a visual representation of news of local and global topics of interest.

They offer a new user interface to present news, and have based the user interface on a reader’s cognitive tendency to look at darker shades with higher contrasts first before moving on to lower contrast shades. We naturally respond to such maps and depict visual patterns easily. Effectively this means that the site aims at guiding your eyes towards more useful news quickly, which …

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NewsBreak offers a interesting visual representation of stories

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It’s always good to come across interesting new initiatives to innovate on the newsreporting and media space by local tech people. A recent such initiative is by Asim Imtiaz, who recently launched Newsbreak – a visual representation of news of local and global topics of interest.

They offer a new user interface to present news, and have based the user interface on a reader’s cognitive tendency to look at darker shades with higher contrasts first before moving on to lower contrast shades. We naturally respond to such maps and depict visual patterns easily. Effectively this means that the site aims at guiding your eyes towards more useful news quickly, which can certainly help deal with information overload.

I’m not sure how the algorithm determines how recent or significant a news story is, i.e. what criteria is used to make something bigger than others or to assign it a certain set of colors, and that might be its biggest challenge to adoption – as long as users agree with the criteria used by NewsBreak to categorize news, it could be incredibly useful to the reader. However, if they disagree with the reordering, the site may become confusing quickly.

Here is their source of inspiration:

“Humans can quickly understand the relative position of the different entities and their relationships in a picture. Interface designers can capitalize on this by shifting some of the cognitive load of information retrieval to the perceptual system. By appropriately coding properties by size, position, shape, and color, we can greatly reduce the need for explicit selection, sorting, and scanning operations.”[Shneiderman, 1994]

Currently they’re just sourcing news from Google News API against keywords.

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4 Comments

  • Good job!

    Data visualization is an area of increasing importance as more and more content is created and dispersed via the web. Users are demanding better design and easier ways to navigate through lots of information and it’s encouraging to see an app like NewsBreak coming out of Pakistan.

    So the idea behind NewsBreak is really good but there are usability issues – which is normal for an innovative project like this and will be corrected I’m sure in the coming days/weeks. Here are some initial observations:

    – The visualization is not very effective. I see myself focusing on the lighter shades (with dark fonts) rather than on the slightly darker shades which represents more recent news.
    – Since the font size is inconsistent, I find myself drifting away from the map.
    – Once a new item is clicked, the pop-out contains Google ads at the top and bottom which are really annoying. I’d advise that the ads be removed until the product is tried and tested.

    For more inspiration check out News Map:
    http://marumushi.com/projects/newsmap

    Interaction designer, Marcos Weskamp, has built this visual news aggregator. I’ve been using News Map (http://marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/newsmap.cfm) since 2007 and absolutely love it! It’s a flash-based application and doesn’t do much other than collect news feeds via the Google News API and organize it by rank and region. Of course, Marcos makes it look and feel amazing.

    What if the same idea was applied to press coverage of organizations? Crawl the web for company names and generate a visual map and organize it by region. The more times a company name is found, the logo is made bigger on the map and clicking the map takes you to the most read news items containing the reference. Not sure how useful that is – but it would be fascinating!

    Thanks for profiling this interesting project.

    All the best to Asim!

  • Hi. Thanks for the review.

    The size depends on popularity and the color depends on the age of the article (the older, the lighter).

    @Mahmood:
    Thanks for the comment. NewsBreak was an inspiration for NewsMap (the one you mentioned is listed as an inspiration on the about page). Actually, the inspiration was from where News-map takes its roots (the HCI research using Treemap in Univ of Maryland).

    However, the critical difference was to implement the idea on a simple Web 2.0 enabled CSS/HTML based solution rather then a Flex/Flash movie as in NewsMap (which ofcourse provides a great interactive environ with smooth animation and fonts).

  • @Asim dude … so this is what I shout about a lot … BE CREATIVE ! and you’ve done the job … good work man !

    I just hope more people could have the balls to think out of the box.

  • i wana become manzacall reseller if have any idea to provide me best rate

    regards
    ismail

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