Karen Rathe asked me to talk briefly to her design class about interactivity and online news.
The first thing we have to do, of course, is define what we mean by "interactivity." Is just merely clicking a link or triggering an action (a technologist view of interaction between humans and computers) or does it involve the possibility of one or both parties being changed as a result of the "dialog." Depending on which side of this divide you find yourself on … you will have a different concept of what constitutes good interaction.
Here are some examples of interaction today:
- New York Times
- What do you see as items of interaction? The most obvious, of course, are hyperlinks … but for the purpose of this exercise, we’ll ignore them.
- What happens when you follow the "most popular" tab at the top of the home page? Is this information a form of interaction?
- What happens when you follow the "video" tab at the top of the home page? Is this interaction? What about the, erh, auto-loading commercial?
- Does the Times offer RSS feeds? Is this a form of interaction?
- Let’s look at one story – on ex-CIA Director Goss. What are the interactive elements on this page? Is the NYT "push" ad a form of interaction? What about the related stories? What sorts of things can you do with this article? What does "save" mean? What about "Reader Opinions"? Can you comment directly on this article?
- Washington Post
- What do you see as items of interaction? Is "search" interaction?
- Let’s check out photos — see the Day in Photos. Is clicking through the gallery interaction?
- What about podcasts and videocasts?
- The WaPo has a regular schedule of "live" online chats.
- The WaPo has blogs as well – with trackback and comments enabled: travel, DC Wire (lots of comments!), World Opinion Roundup
- Stories feature a "who’s blogging" module. Interaction?
- Sniper shootings
- Known for its "interactives" – which used to be stand-alone and are now more integrated into the site: Africa (day in the life), You Be the Baggage Screener, Test Your Supplment Savvy, Reagan, WarTime Civil Liberties
- Look at the difference between MSNBC and WaPo treatment of the same (WaPo) story.
- Blogs: Daily Nightly, Altercation, First Read
- The Week In Pictures – vote
- Most popular
- On the Scene: Hurricanes