récit

Audible Stories.

Brief

Make news come alive.

Category

Privacy

Roles

Design + Research

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Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas, Do not go gentle into that goodnight

Mission

Tell the news vividly.

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To a lot of older people, reading the news is the only thing that will make them feel relevant and connected to the world outside. An increasing number of them is getting their daily fix through the Internet; it gives them more control.

However, the current state of news design, largely financed by an ad-focused model, doesn't seem to make it easy for their senior readership.

Challenges

News sites are often visually cluttered.

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White spaces are a rare commodity nowadays. Homepages are usually packed with various types of articles in conjunction. One can't be far from the truth if he says that today's news sites cater to our short attention span.

However, to an audience that values legibility and focus, the current model for news sites fail them miserably.

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Designing for disability can help unlock new opportunities that may end up benefiting other segments of users as well.

Stories are more than words.

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News today comes in an array of media: video, sound, interactives. However, the art of storytelling remains unchanged. People want to be hooked with a simple enough concept, see it go through development, and then descend upon a resolution.

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With the world getting more & more visually immersive, how do we manage to deliver an uncompromised experience to those whose visual perception is challenged?

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A successful solution will not just narrate the news
but tells the story behind it in the most captivating ways.

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Transforming text into narratives.

Reported pieces are constructed mostly out of text. Any decent text-to-speech engine could turn paragraphs of text into an audible form by reading it out loud. However, it requires a deep understanding of the structure, the meaning behind the words being used, and ultimately, how they come together to tell the greater story.

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For every news piece selected, a story with a beginning, middle, and —where applicable— an end, is automatically generated in audible form.

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Old, meet new.

Starting from a simple RSS feed, the script applies machine learning to figure out the structure of the site - and more importantly - which set of content the reader prioritizes over the other. Prioritized content is more likely to be featured on the timeline.

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News that programs itself.

Taking a cue from broadcast television, the script creates a timeline in which breaking stories are quickly briefed at the beginning, letting the user have a choice to listen to them immediately or after, before proceeding into the content of the main story.

Early Prototype

Bring news to life.

The French word récit literally means 'story' in English. At the core of each news piece is essentially a story - most of the time still in development - waiting to be told.

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How it works

See récit in action

FEB. 18, 2017

Sun, Sand and Influence: For Mar-a-Lago Members, Proximity Is Power


By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, MAGGIE HABERMAN and ERIC LIPTON

Mar-a-Lago, the members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla., is being called the winter White House. The entry fee for members was doubled, to $200,000, shortly after President Trump took office.

On any given weekend, you might catch President Trump’s son-in-law and top Mideast dealmaker, Jared Kushner, by the beachside soft-serve ice cream machine, or his reclusive chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, on the dining patio. If you are lucky, the president himself could stop by your table for a quick chat. But you will have to pay $200000 for the privilege — and the few available spots are going fast.

Virtually overnight, Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s members-only Palm Beach, Fla., club, has been transformed into the part-time capital of American government, a so-called winter White House where Mr. Trump has entertained a foreign head of state, health care industry executives and other presidential guests.

But Mr. Trump’s gatherings at Mar-a-Lago — he arrived there on Friday afternoon, his third weekend visit in a row — have also created an arena for potential political influence rarely seen in American history: a kind of Washington steakhouse on steroids, situated in a sunny playground of the rich and powerful, where members and their guests enjoy a level of access that could elude even the best-connected of lobbyists.


How Mar-a-Lago Turned Into the Situation Room

President Trump was shown responding to a national security crisis during dinner on Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach Fla., as members and guests looked on.


Membership lists reviewed by The New York Times show that the club’s nearly 500 paying members include dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by Mr. Trump’s policies. At least three club members are under consideration for an ambassadorship. Most of the 500 have had memberships predating Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and there are a limited number of memberships still available.

William I. Koch, who oversees a major mining and fuels company, belongs to Mar-a-Lago, as does the billionaire trader Thomas Peterffy, who spent more than $8 million on political ads in 2012 warning of creeping socialism in America.

William I. Koch in his office at Oxbow Carbon, his fuels company, in May 2016 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Mr. Koch is a member of Mar-a-Lago.

Another member is George Norcross, an insurance executive and the South Jersey Democratic Party boss, whose friendship with Mr. Trump dates to the president’s Atlantic City years, when Mr. Norcross held insurance contracts with Mr. Trump’s casinos, and Mr. Trump wrangled with the state’s Democratic leaders over tax treatment of the properties. Yet another member is Janet Weiner, part owner and chief financial officer of the Rockstar energy drink company, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying federal officials to avoid tighter regulations on its products.

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Simple, smart targeting.

The target function lets the user to explicitly specify what caught their attention. Through this mechanism, the script can learn which part of the site the user prioritizes and builds a case over time around their habit and preferences when it comes to news-consuming.

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Easily translate between different languages.

With a single tap, the source material is passed to the Google Translate API. The result is then immediately parsed and read back to the user in their language of choice.

Future

Lifelike Text-to-Speech with Amazon Polly

Why Polly?

Amazon Polly provides 47 lifelike voices and supports 24 languages, including a wide range of male and female voices with a variety of accents.

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Forecasters are predicting a strong storm to hit Southern California and Los Angeles this weekend.

"This will be the worst we’ve had in a while," meteorologist Kurt Kaplan of the National Weather Service said. "Today is the worst of it."

The precipitation is expected to be the type of downpour that causes a lot of debris and mud. High surf and high winds are also in the forecast.

Downed trees have already been reported, and the Los Angeles Fire Department has responded to dozens of fallen power lines.

There was also one instance in which an individual suffered electric shock after a large tree toppled onto power lines and landed on a vehicle.

The victim was in serious condition and hospitalized.

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