The NewsCubed project was a journalistic experiment and led to the idea of Journalism Design. It was initially my PhD research project but later evolved into a teaching initiative and a short-lived startup.

The motivation for the project was journalism innovation and the belief that the media industry needs a new approach if it is going to tackle the computational challenges that are coming. The NewsCube was an experiment in designing for new forms of news interaction.

The NewsCube was essentially a storytelling tool that could be used to tell complex stories from multiple perspectives. It was a three-dimensional virtual container that allowed users to create and curate content in themes or categories and present them on the sides of a cube. Each side can accommodate up to nine items and readers interact with the NewsCube by spinning it around using their finger or a mouse.

Approach

The NewsCube was created using an interaction design methodology, evolved through three major iterations and was evaluated by industry participants.

Methods included a survey of literature and practice, wire framing, prototypes (low, mixed and high fidelity), interviews.

A study of literature and current practice revealed journalist have not exploited the potential of space and shape to tell stories. This insight led to the idea of a collaborative, tactile, story cube. The concept evolved from low-low-fidelity balsa cubes, to an iPad prototype and eventual desktop beta version. Prototypes were evaluated by industry professionals. 

Outcomes

In 2014 the project won an inaugural Walkley Grant for Innovation in Journalism. This led to the development of the NewsCube beta and release of open source code.

NewsCubed project site

Innovation Masterclass