In 2011, Grace Woo spent time at the Boston Globe helping Chris Marstall and Mark Chang start up GlobeLab: a lab investigating the near future of news. Many passive and interactive hacks evolved over time and it became apparent that all of them involved showing visual information on active displays. It seemed that that the near future of news might involve using a lot of displays (this conclusion might have been drawn just based off of the bulk of display-related items on the GLobeLab's receipts).
Tweets on a pole: Headline tweets displayed on screens in the Boston Globe newsroom. See Center for Civic Media and Neiman Lab descriptions of the GlobeLab hacks and references to other similar installations.
A large-format public display: Images displayed on a large and high-resolution map to show off daily-lives throughout Boston. Network World describes the role of information display in the near future.
One of the projects that Mark, Grace and Chris started was Papereye, an application which connects paper headlines to weblinks by performing standard optical character recognition (OCR) on the news headlines. From this, it became apparent that in order for there to be more interaction, there needed to be a method of embedding more data in the visual surface (in this case the newspaper). The transition from print to active displays requires a way of embedding visual information which carries a lot of information for the machine in a way thats unobtrusive to the human eye.
In many cases, active screen real estate is limited and we need more information to understand what is going on. NewsFlash is a collaborative way to experience news events from around the world. The public display shows only the well-designed frontpages of newspapers. The article text is not resolvable. In this sense, there are three aspects to the Newsflash installation. It was debuted at the MIT Media Lab member week.
Browse: The large display format allows one to browse, view headlines and images from around the world. It gives glanceable news for you and your community.
In order to get more information about each frontpage, we use VRCodes to embed data in a manner that is not obtrusive to the human eye but visible and decodable by a camera. Although each news page appears to be "static", they are actually video reels that embed data underneath.
Scan: Point a camera at any screen to grab article text, links, or metadata. Newsflash uses VRCodes to embed visible information in an unobtrusive manner.
The application on the phone downloads the information and stores everything for later use. This might be the actual article text or the pictures associated with the article.
Keep: Store the additional data received from the screen on your phone.