After much anticipation, Team Crunchberry is proud to present to you our final product: News Mixer.
Our mission statement: “For busy young adults, News Mixer is the only place to find the news affecting Cedar Rapids that your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers are talking about.”
And why is that, you ask? Because it harnesses the credibility of an established media company, leverages existing online social networks and gives people a constructive way to interact with each other and the news.
The site we have created is a demonstration site. You can log in now with your Facebook username and password and try it out. The folks at Gazette Communications want to launch a site based on News Mixer in 2009, and there are already some other people interested in using our open-source software.
Here’s a quick summary of News Mixer:
3 commenting structures to encourage and engage readers to discuss the news.
Questions and Answers: Displayed like annotations in the margin of an article, readers can ask questions or answer others left behind by other contributors to the discussion.
Quips: Displayed as a small talk-bubble in a live feed on the article page, quips are short-form comments styled after Twitter that allow people to leave feedback in a quick, to-the-point form.
Letters to the Editor: For users who really have something to say, they can write a letter to the editor in 250 words or less. Instead of having this commenting form at the bottom of an article, our letters to the editor live on their own page. Letters are highlighted by the editorial staff, and are also featured on our home page, highlighting user feedback for the community.
Along with the commenting structures, we have used Facebook Connect to take down the registration barrier from using our Web site. Facebook Connect also allows us to display your friends’ comments on every article. This allows for transparent discussion, and as a direct result, we hope this will encourage more intelligent discussion.
Finally, all users of News Mixer get their own profile page. On News Mixer, users are allowed to follow each other’s activity on the site, and view the activity in their news feed. Along with your own contributions, recent comments from your Facebook friends and News Mixer follow-ees are aggregated and quantified in your user profile, which serves as the nexus for the News Mixer social community.
The home page
The home page of News Mixer weaves news articles together with letters and responses from your social network. On the top of the page you will see recent comments by people in your social network, and a hot question of the day. Down the left side you will see news articles and letters posted in reverse chronological order. And on the right you will see a live feed of the most recent quips. The idea is to provide a quick snapshot of what’s new and what’s generating conversation, while highlighting the conversations involving your social network.
More to come
We’re sure you have a ton of questions about our processes, suggestions for improvement, and of course, comments about what we did. Many of these questions will be answered soonwhen we release our final report, and a video of our presentation. These materials will be found here at crunchberry.org, and will also be available on our News Mixer Web site.