The NewsCube is a web-based application designed to allow complex stories to be told from multiple perspectives. Its playful, tactile and collaborative design disrupts traditional journalistic formats and demonstrates the potential for physical and emotional qualities in news design.
Background Hypertext has the potential to make journalism more interactive, transparent and engaging but journalists and scholars have failed to exploit the potential. Rather than explore the possibilities of the technology for practice, research has tended to focus on counting links or examining where they go. This work provides insight into what is, rather than what can be. Yet as technologies continue to impact the way we communicate, journalists will need to create new formats, platforms and structures. They will need to design stories and technologies that achieve journalistic goals and serve journalism audiences.
Contribution The NewsCube represents a new possibility for hyperlinked, journalistic storytelling. The three-dimensional, interactive interface was designed to use hyperlinks in a way that gives readers greater control over stories and enables them to experience complex narratives from different points of view. This idea of collaborative, multidimensional storytelling disrupts the traditional, linear format of news and challenges the idea that journalists control the story. The design approach we used to create the NewsCube demonstrates the potential for practice-led methods to play a role in imagining journalism of the future.
Significance The NewsCube demonstrates how playful, fun and tactile qualities can be factored into news design. The shape of the NewsCube is familiar and extensible. It is reminiscent of building blocks and can be manipulated and toyed with by users as they navigate their own pathways through a story. Such qualities are not readily associated with news, but as technology evolves, as it disappears into our buildings and our clothes, journalism will need to accommodate more physical and emotional interactions. The NewsCube embodies these ideas and suggests new ways of using technology to tell stories.