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.

Latest Posts

  • Prototyping Augmented Reality

    Something that really frustrates me is that, while I’m excited about the potential AR has for storytelling, I don’t feel like I have really great AR experiences that I can point people to. We know that AR is great for taking a selfie with a Pikachu and it’s pretty good at measuring spaces (as long as your room is really well lit and your phone is fully charged) but beyond that, we’re really still figuring...

    Continue Reading

  • Capturing the Soundfield: Recording Ambisonics for VR

    When building experiences in virtual reality we’re confronted with the challenge of mimicking how sounds hit us in the real world from all directions. One useful tool for us to attempt this mimicry is called a soundfield microphone. We tested one of these microphones to explore how audio plays into building immersive experiences for virtual reality. Approaching ambisonics with the soundfield microphone has become popular in development for VR particularly for 360 videos. With it,...

    Continue Reading

  • How to translate live-spoken human words into computer “truth”

    Our Knight Lab team spent three months in Winter 2018 exploring how to combine various technologies to capture, interpret, and fact check live broadcasts from television news stations, using Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant device as a low-friction way to initiate the process. The ultimate goal was to build an Alexa skill that could be its own form of live, automated fact-checking: cross-referencing a statement from a politician or otherwise newsworthy figure against previously fact-checked statements......

    Continue Reading

  • Northwestern is hiring a CS + Journalism professor

    Work with us at the intersection of media, technology and design.

    Are you interested in working with journalism and computer science students to build innovative media tools, products and apps? Would you like to teach the next generation of media innovators? Do you have a track record building technologies for journalists, publishers, storytellers or media consumers? Northwestern University is recruiting for an assistant or associate professor for computer science AND journalism, who will share an appointment in the Medill School of Journalism and the McCormick School...

    Continue Reading

  • Introducing StorylineJS

    Today we're excited to release a new tool for storytellers.

    StorylineJS makes it easy to tell the story behind a dataset, without the need for programming or data visualization expertise. Just upload your data to Google Sheets, add two columns, and fill in the story on the rows you want to highlight. Set a few configuration options and you have an annotated chart, ready to embed on your website. (And did we mention, it looks great on phones?) As with all of our tools, simplicity...

    Continue Reading

  • Join us in October: NU hosts the Computation + Journalism 2017 symposium

    An exciting lineup of researchers, technologists and journalists will convene in October for Computation + Journalism Symposium 2017 at Northwestern University. Register now and book your hotel rooms for the event, which will take place on Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14 in Evanston, IL. Hotel room blocks near campus are filling up fast! Speakers will include: Ashwin Ram, who heads research and development for Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) agent, which powers the...

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More