Current: A News Project . [Project Website]
Current is a realtime data visualization showing a snapshot of what the internet-using population in America has been thinking for the last 24 hours, in the form of their collective search history. This information is condensed for readability into memes, living ‘thought organisms’ that act as though they have agency, control, and a selfish motivation.
News relies on soft stories like horoscopes, celebrity gossip and restaurant reviews to subsidize the important but less sensational stories that keep democracy running. At base, any solution to News’ present problems must address the balance between the hard news we need and the soft news that drives advertising dollars. By visually anthropomorphizing the capricious nature of public attention Current
can spotlight these missed opportunities in news coverage.
The tools: the Google Top-20
hourly list of rising searches, Google News
, Google Zeitgeist, Yahoo Keywords API, PHP, Processing
. An early proof of concept was shown at the 2009 ITP Winter Show. The final version was shown at the ITP Spring Show. Website includes full academic explanatory paper. Current has been covered by NPR
, and RWW,