Nine new projects unveiled this week by journalism, computer science teams

Journalism and computer science students from the latest “collaborative innovation" class at Northwestern will unveil nine new technology prototypes this week — and you can see the demos in person or via a live stream on Wednesday.

The technologies they will be presenting are:

  • Spectacle: An app for Google Glass that provides an augmented-reality experience exploring the Northwestern campus.
  • TweetBeat: A service that helps a journalist find Twitter users worth following to keep up with his or her beat.
  • OpShop:  A system that, for a given issue, finds and displays different points of view from members of Congress having different political orientations.
  • DataTrack: A tool to help journalists find newsworthy trends in government data.
  • NewsTube:  A better search engine for YouTube, focusing especially on news video.
  • TwConnect: An app that helps a Twitter user find good topics to talk about with another Twitter user, based on previous tweets by both.
  • Buzz:  A website that compares and contrasts trending pop-culture references in different cities, based on the bands, movies, etc. that people are talking about on Twitter.
  • Baby Steps:  A toolkit that helps a non-profit health organization find people in need of its services, based on Twitter activity and posts to online forums.
  • Cinecast: A system that enables users to predict the box office for upcoming films – and explain the performance of recent films – based on a database of previous movie releases.


The students have been working since September, when I and my Knight Lab colleague, professor Larry Birnbaum of the computer science department in the McCormick School formed interdisciplinary teams out of the 30 students enrolled in the class. We gave them a list of broadly defined project ideas, asked them for their preferences and tried to assign students to ideas they were most interested in.

In general, we strive for a mix of projects relevant to journalism and media: tools for journalists, software for publishers, and applications that could be useful or fun for media consumers. We use an agile-development approach; teams are expected to present an updated version of their project each week.  Some projects end up being further developed by the professional staff here at the Knight Lab.

Please RSVP for the event on MeetUp (Details: 11 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the McCormick Tribune Center Forum). If you can't attend in person, we'll be streaming the presentation at http://bit.ly/JournTech-Fall13.

We hope you'll join us, in person or on the live stream. Want to get a sense of the issues the students have been wrestling with? Check out the class blog, Tech Media Street.

About the author

Rich Gordon

Professor and Director of Digital Innovation

Journalism/tech intersection, my passion for 25 years, data journalism, Miami Herald web director, now hacker journalism.

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