HTML5, touch and new interfaces for news

I feel like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. Woah. When Zee at Next Web posted this HTML5 news timeline from AP Labs, I was blown away. It’s such an intuitive, rich interface for exploring news from multiple angles, and after a lot of years of stagnation in terms of interface design, I’m really excited to see HTML5 and touch interfaces motivating designers and coders to explore some new ideas.

You can explore stories by time, choosing different subjects as you go. The stories drop into the timeline with colours related to their topics.

AP HTML5 Timeline News Reader

Clicking on a story in the timeline opens up a small preview window.

AP HTML5 Story Preview

You can then open the full story that brings up this three-pane window in which you can make adjustments to the text, see additional information about the image with the story and read the story itself.

AP HTML5 Story Preview

Now, as Conrad Quilty-Harper says on Twitter, it “runs like a dog on the iPad”. I was viewing it in Chrome on a four-year old, much-repaired MacBook. It was very fluid on the MacBook. I should probably try it in Safari and see if it has something to do with Safari’s support for HTML5. That might explain why it’s slow on the iPad. However, Conrad has a point. Creating a site in HTML5 should allow it to run on an iPad, but it looks like it might take some optimisation. However, designing the interface is half the battle. As a first effort, it’s an excellent starting place, and it’s very exciting to finally start seeing some experimentation with interface like this. HTML5 might not be production ready, according to the W3C, but it’s very promising to see this level of sophistication at this stage.

2 thoughts on “HTML5, touch and new interfaces for news

  1. Kevin, you’re right – this is a nice advance on the normal interface, and offers one path in terms of helping our brains process lots of information. There are lots of interesting experiments in visualization (this video catalogs lots of them: http://datajournalism.stanford.edu/), although I don’t see as many in interfaces. It’s still early days, I guess.

    I do wonder about time-related organizing, though – I realize that’s the way stories come in, and we’re very used to that as an organizing principle for information (“what happened yesterday?”). But I suspect that’s less and less important a frame for us in a world where we can much more easily get information when we want it.

    Reg

  2. Reg,

    You reminded me that I need to watch that data-journalism video. It’s in my Delicious bookmarks.

    Questioning time-based organisation, that’s an interesting thought. It’s definitely worth questioning, especially as the only way of organising news. One of the major issues in terms of the way that we organise news right now is that often stories that have facts that have been superseded are left without reference to the update.

    In terms of it being early days, there are some lessons that I think were forgot from the early days. A company called Plumb Designs (now ThinkMap) created online exhibits for Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project that allowed people to visually explore the collection by time, location, genre of music. It was stunning, and it was built 10 years ago. How do we adapt this kind of discovery to a real-time information environment? I think better metadata will help.

    I think another issue for me right now is provenance. Recently, as I put a talk together, I had to go through four derivative posts to find the original source of the information.

    There are so many opportunities right now in terms of adding value to digital content. Many people see it and are quickly heading in that direction, but in journalism, I don’t feel the sense of urgency there apart from a growing, but small, group of digital entrepreneurs. Thanks again for the comment.

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