Visualizing News

Spectra

I have been playing around with “Spectra Visual Newsreader“, from msnbc.com, for a couple of days now. Spectra is in essence a really nicely designed news reader. News headlines float around at the top, in a sort of orbital cloud and as you scroll through them they drop down one at a time with story summaries and sometimes images. News is organized colorwise by the type of news it is, for example entetainment is various shades of blue, tech is sort of tourquise. You can select what type of news you get and can subscribe to certain blogs, although I don’t thing there is anyway to add your own blogs. You can quickly go to the full story (on the actual site) or save stories in a “News Collector” for later reading.

There are a bunch of other features like auto mode, and colour recognition, which are pretty much useless in terms of news reading but look nice and are fun to try for about 30 seconds. Spectra is still in Beta so hopefully new features will be added such as; stories permanantly disapearing after you read them, so that the same stories don’t keep showing up the next day. Also it would be cool to be able to add your own blogs, msnbc claims it is an “rss viewer” but untill you can specifically add rss feeds of your choosing (like Google Reader), it isn’t.

It is certainly better than regular online news websites and, at least visually, makes reading news a more pleasurable experience. This is a great effort and might even encourage some people who don’t regularly read the news to start.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Cheers.

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