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The Electronic Broadsheet


Most of this paper is dedicated to how information is presented to the user; user input is of secondary concern. There are several reasons for this. While most software today is event-driven, the Electronic Broadsheet is a contiguous process that can run without any user involvement. The newspaper will update itself much like a traditional newspaper will be delivered to subscribers weather they read yesterday's edition or not.

Also, an important part of the Newspace project is the user modeling [Orwant 91] . The system keeps a dynamic model of each reader and consults the model when selecting what news to present. The more the system knows about the user, the less the uses needs to tell the system.

However, to adapt to a user's changing interests and habits, the system needs user feedback. Ideally, system feedback should be transparent to the user. The system should use eye tracking and gesture recognition as input channels, but this kind of user interface technology is not mature enough yet. We therefore have to settle for traditional explicit methods; the current configuration includes a mouse as pointer device.

10.1 Input Devices

Used on the large screen, the mouse is sometimes irritating to use:

* The hand and eye are far from each other, and it is therefore hard to relate hand and mouse movements.

* The mouse pad is very much smaller than the screen so one either has to lift the mouse to move far, or set the mouse/pointer movent ratio high. Neither solution is good.

Earlier newspaper projects in the EP group have been based on touch-sensitive screens as input devices. This makes sense since precision is of secondary concern, and pointing directly on the screen eliminates the need for relating hand and eye movements.

10.2 Articles of Interest

To trace the changing interests of the user, the system needs to know which articles the reader finds interesting. Users are encouraged to move the pointer into each article they read, and they can indicate special interest in the article by clicking in it. All user feedback is handed over to the user modeling module to update the personalized filters.

If the user indicates special interest in an article on the front page, the system will pan the view into the corresponding section page. The motivation for panning is that readers will probably be interested in reading related stories.

To make room for new articles, older stories sometimes have to be taken down. If a currently displayed article is to be eliminated, the user has to get a warning. Usually, articles can be taken down without telling the user; old articles just fade away and disappear. However, the user might happen to read the article that is to be eliminated. Therefore, the system must have some kind of warning mechanism if the old article is on the current page. This is done through fading the contrast of the article before taking it down. When an article fades, the user has a minute or so to indicate that the article should stay by clicking in it.

10.3 Explicit Movement Info

All section pages contain a "door" to the front page. The door is a window that when clicked will pan the view back to front page. The placement of the door has been a point of discussion; some users favor the door to have a fixed position on all pages. Another approach is to put the door along the border with, or in the corner closest to, the front page.

10.1 - Input Devices
10.2 - Articles of Interest
10.3 - Explicit Movement Info

The Electronic Broadsheet - 30 JUN 95
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