Tools You Can Use: Current

Current: A News Project is a data visualization tool launched last month to give editors and writers a new way to determine which stories have the best chance of being read online. Seeing the potential for communicators to leverage this program to better understand the news cycle, I interviewed Current’s creator and my classmate from ITP, Zoe Fraade-Blanar about her project:

Q: What does the Current stream represent in non-technical terms?
A: This particular tool is pulling the top news stories from Google, which does us the favor of condensing them for us into general topics.  And to find out how the human population is responding it’s using the Google Hot Topics tool, surveying the fastest rising searches in the US every hour.  But there’s no reason any Trending Topics data wouldn’t work here – Twitter would be a favorite.

Q: Explain a bit about how using Current helps a journalist determine “news that matters.”

A: Ah, not even the smartest computer algorithm can replace an editor when it comes to placing value on a story.  What it can do is help one balance their soft and hard coverage.  In a world where a struggling editor might choose to raise their traffic by covering every celebrity scandal, Current lets them identify, say, the two that are most likely to give them the same amount of traffic.  Of course, Current is morally neutral – if you wanted to use a tool like this to generate the most sensational newspaper ever, that’s certainly a completely legitimate use as well!

Q: Although you built Current with news editors in mind, what features might be of interest to PR?

A: One of the interesting observations here is that there are two ways for a news item to make it into the interest stream: they can cause a big enough stir that they spawn their own meme, but they can also piggyback off of an existing meme.  For someone with PR in mind, hitching your topic behind a growing meme is a completely legitimate way to get noticed for companies without the resources to spawn their own.  When PR is pinpointed to what people actually want to know, it’s no longer advertising.  That PR turns into real honest-to-goodness relevant information.  Which is a beautiful thing.

Q: How does Current address a gap in the way we currently perceive news?

A: If Current, and projects like it, are successful, they should actually change the way the News sees news.  Right now it seems like there are two extremes – News media that wants to protect the perfect news coverage on some kind of idealistic pedestal, and News media that wants to use News to drive advertising dollars no matter what the content.  There’s a bit of a grey area in the middle as the pedestal people are forced by the economy to prune coverage areas they don’t excel in, and at the same time there exists an inevitable backlash against the more mercenary model, but the idea here is to give them another alternative.  The survival of News as an industry lies somewhere in the middle.

Q: You spent some time working with the New York Times analytic group before you built this project. What changes are you seeing in the way we value news at a technical level?

A: Of course, the real value for a story is how it changes what people think about a topic, but that’s a tough one to quantify (and of course, impossible to monetize).  A more Machiavellian metric would be the amount of conversions it results in for advertisers, one less so would be general clickthroughs, or clickthroughs from the story to another in-site story.

But I think all these miss the point, which is that some of the most important news is the most boring.  The most successful metric will take into account that some of the most necessary stories will be complete flops when measured by the numbers.  Those stories are what keeps the reader’s trust, even if they don’t keep the reader’s interest.  Like the blank whitespace in a drawing, replace too much of it and the whole becomes unreadable.  So perhaps it might be better to judge the traffic of a section as a whole, than on a story-by-story basis.

Thanks so much to Zoe for her time. You can download Current and try it out for yourself.

If you have any ideas on how Current could be a useful communications tool, please leave a comment.

218 thoughts on “Tools You Can Use: Current

  1. Pingback: Isagenix Review
  2. Howdy! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  3. I believe the actual huge start throughout cellular phone technological innovation came after the digicam mobile phones appeared. That totally wiped out all of the cameraless telephone totally and also points simply became accomplished and also greater immediately after that. Cell phones without having digital cameras mean that absolutely no movie contacting and also image albums. With cameras, cell phones were required to acquire appropriate image albums, photo editing facilities, and enable for additional mms-es along with image sharing. Colour started to be really important as well as impression and also image quality started becoming significantly better. I can’t picture today’s cell phone nowadays establishing all its capabilities devoid of the digicam cell phone as being a starting up point.

  4. Thanks for your article. One other problem|Other thing is that mesothelioma|mesothelioma cancer is generally caused by|brought on by|due to|a result of|attributable to|material, which is a carcinogenic|cancer causing|positivelly dangerous|very toxic|extremely dangerous|dangerous material. It is|It’s|It really is|It can be|It truly is|Its commonly seen|observed|noticed|witnessed|staff

  5. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  6. Pingback: Mary Kay
  7. Pingback: Melaleuca
  8. Great beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how can I subscribe for a blog web site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

  9. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  10. Pingback: Nu Skin
  11. Only wanna input on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the content is real wonderful. “In business school classrooms they construct wonderful models of a nonworld.” by Peter Drucker.
    [url=http://www.floridagatorboard.com/nike-air-foamposite-black/]black foamposites[/url]

  12. hey there and thank you for your info ?I?e definitely picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise some technical issues using this site, as I experienced to reload the site many times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I? adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for much more of your respective intriguing content. Make sure you update this again soon..
    [url=http://www.algerieo.com/annonce/taxi-12s-2013-retro-12-taxi/]taxi 12s 2013[/url]

  13. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more.

  14. Pingback: nail salon
  15. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. kudos

  16. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My blog site is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Thank you!

  17. Very efficiently written story. It will be useful to anybody who employess it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts.

  18. Pingback: sandale piele
  19. Very good website you have here but I was curious if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get feedback from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Many thanks!

  20. I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering problems with your website. It appears as though some of the written text in your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too? This may be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Many thanks

  21. I am curious to find out what blog system you happen to be utilizing? I’m having some small security issues with my latest website and I would like to find something more safe. Do you have any recommendations?

  22. Thanks , I have recently been looking for info approximately this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. However, what about the conclusion? Are you positive concerning the supply?

  23. Pingback: como llamar a cuba
  24. Pingback: Farmville 2 Cheats
  25. Spot i’ll carry on with this write-up, I honestly feel this web site requires substantially additional consideration. I’ll oftimes be once more to read significantly more, appreciate your that details.

  26. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website. I’m hoping the same high-grade website post from you in the upcoming also. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me to get my own site now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  27. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog audience have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any advice to help fix this issue?|I am curious to find out what blog platform you are utilizing? I’m experiencing some small security issues with my latest blog and I’d like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any solutions?

  28. I was suggested this website by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem. You’re wonderful! Thanks!

  29. Pingback: Chinese dishes
  30. An impressive share, I just offered this onto a colleague who was accomplishing somewhat evaluation on this. And he in fact purchased me breakfast since I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! Nevertheless yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I truly feel strongly about it and appreciate reading much more on this topic. If feasible, as you turn into expertise, would you thoughts updating your weblog with additional details? It’s very handy for me. Major thumb up for this blog place up!

  31. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  32. Good blog! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS which must do the trick! Have a great day!

  33. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you have been utilizing? I’m having some small security issues with my latest website and I’d like to find something more secure. Do you have any suggestions?

  34. Pingback: No Anchor
  35. Hi there, just turned into aware of your blog via Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m gonna be careful for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you happen to proceed this in future. Lots of people will probably be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  36. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I’m quite sure I will learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

Comments are closed.