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A study on how people read news on the web.


Interesting points:

Customized news reading is a myth... (may cause problems for ViewPoint, etc)

Actually, the ViewPoint plans account for this. People are lazy. More positively, few people are willing to spend significant effort to improve their news-reading experience. Most customized news services ask a lot of hard questions or require difficult ranking, for only a slight improvement in delivered news. (Anything that requires multiple seconds of thinking is "hard".)

Most people customize their news by their choice of news sources. (Personally, I get most of my news from the New York Times (web edition), the EconomistMagazine? (web and print), and SlashDot. --CA) Consider the diversity of sources:

ViewPoint could be seen as a way to encourage multiple different sources with varying views, styles, and content choices. The few people who enjoy actively filtering content will probably become editors. Most readers, however, will have only one difficult choice: which viewpoint(s) to initially subscribe to. (I would like to force the choice, but an initial "default" view may be popular.)

When a new user initially visits a ViewPoint site, they might be automatically subscribed to a default or site-specific view. Hopefully this view will include a section like "Other Views", which describes how other viewpoints treat the current subject.

For instance, if one is reading a page about software methodologies, the "Other View" section might link to views like "Uncle Bob's XP News" and "Fred's Programming Methods", along with a brief description of each view. (Bob's XP is mostly devoted to ExtremeProgramming, with other methods only rarely mentioned (and usually in comparison to XP). Fred's Methods is a high-level comparative overview of many methodologies, but with very little detail of each. See the "Programming" section of Mary's ViewPoint-Review for more related views.)

I'm not sure ViewPoint (or even wiki-like sites in general) are a good fit for "news". News is largely one-way communication about current events. ViewPoint is unlikely to replace CNN or the New York Times in that niche. Even in public-participation sites like SlashDot, there is rarely any significant dialogue or attempts to form consensus.

Finally, I've had experience with overdesigning filtering systems. In my "strn" newsreader project I implemented a large set of tools for scoring articles. In real use, the only tool I typically used was to score by author. Good authors tend to be consistently good. In ViewPoint, I hope that good editors will also be consistent. --CliffordAdams


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