I see on the Guardian website today that they have unveiled an interesting experiment they’ve been working on called Zeitgeist (A German word which means “spirit of the times”). They describe it as:
“a new way to reveal and explore content on the Guardian site, according to “social signals” from users.”
Basically news stories are displayed based on how popular the are but is intelligent enough not to simply base it on the number of page views. The algorithms used take into account how much attention the article is getting compared to others in the same category or of the same type, this includes page views, comments, traffic to and from the article, and how much it is spread through social networking. The category of news is represented by the colour of the panel.
Personally I think the idea could be taken much further with some kind of visual representation of how hot the news is as well as how old, perhaps using size, opacity or position. This could be updated in real-time to show a constantly shifting patchwork of the current news scene. Something like this:
The page is still in development and, due to it’s experimental nature, probably always will be, but it’s always good to see people trying to use technology in new ways. This kind of intelligent delivery of content is increasingly important in a landscape where there is simply too much information for an individual to sort through. I’ll certainly be following this one with interest.
You can read more about it in their blog post.