An open source tool that connects people to people and questions to answers
People are busy. They don't always have the time or the desire to sort through piles of information, but they want to know about specific local events that affect their communities. Although some people will make time to scan headlines and search for personally relevant stories, others would benefit from a direct delivery service that gives consumers the precise information they seek.
Curious? is an open-source tool that allows users to easily bookmark events and subscribe to custom news feeds at the push of a button, using time and location data to mark points of interest on a shared map. It also provides journalists with local story leads, alerts news providers to the current interests of consumers, and sends stories directly to the most engaged readers.
The way it works is simple—a user presses a button when she sees an event that piques her curiosity. Once time and location data has been recorded, the user receives an alert when more information about that particular event becomes available. If she chooses, the user can post media, add comments, or volunteer to serve as a witness for local journalists.
To see the concept in action, try the Curiosity Simulator below.
Curiosity Simulator: An Interactive Prototype
The scenario: Imagine that you're moving through the city streets of Chicago, taking in different sights and sounds as you go. You see an event that piques your curiosity, but you don't have the time to really stop and investigate the situation, nor would you be able to gather all of the relevant information alone. What's your alternative? Well, you can mark the time and place as a point of interest and then receive an alert when more information becomes available.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Try it for yourself. Just watch the video below and when something catches your eye, hit the curiosity button.
When you mark a specific time and place with the curiosity button, that data appears on a shared map (below). You can revisit the map later to see if others marked the same time and place, or to gather more information about specific events.
While the use of location data makes this tool particularly useful to mobile users, anyone—using any device—can add a point of interest and its approximate time stamp to the shared map. This tool will also be useful to newsrooms that want:
- More information about geographically segmented consumer interests
- Leads for breaking news stories
- Access to eyewitness accounts
- An easy way to send targeted stories to interested readers
- New methods for visualizing news stories by time and location.
"Okay, I get it," you say. "So what else happens after someone presses the button?" I'm glad you asked, because I prepared a handy flow chart to answer that question. The prompts and responses below show a sample approach to user interaction.