In case it isn’t obvious enough by now, contemporary newspapers should be thinking of information presentation in the context of applications, not just as documents. Or, to re-use an idea I first wrote about five years ago, sometimes journalism is better presented as a tool than as a story.
I’m reminded of the importance of this concept by the Seattle P-I’s presentation of a tag cloud timeline of Microsoft’s messages through the years. From Altair to Zune, there’s a nice document of thirty years of history, with font size easily showing which ideas are most prominent at any given time.
Now, to be fair, I love the idea here more than its execution. The presentation is a little wonky and far too complex for easy skimming. Worse, you’ve got a lot of the potential of application-based presentation, but none of the power. I can’t make my own views, add my own context, or highlight my own preferred display of the content. But it’s a good start and shows that the team at the Post-Intelligencer isn’t being complacent about the way that their journalism needs to evolve. More background about the tag view is in Todd Bishop’s piece.