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Consortium to probe news presentation

MIT's Media Laboratory announced the formation of an international research consortium, called News in the Future, to explore new means of gathering, filtering and delivering news. The announcement was made at the fourth Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference in Kobe, Japan, last week.

News in the Future, or NIF, is chaired by Jerome B. Rubin, formerly a senior vice president of the Times Mirror Company. The principal investigators are MIT research scientist Walter R. Bender and Professor Nicholas Negroponte, working with seven other Media Lab faculty. Professor Negroponte is director of the laboratory.

Professor Negroponte said NIF's five-year goal is to find a way to program computers to recognize news content so a reader's interests could guide the selection of stories. Delivery of the content could also be personalized through text, sound, video or some combination of all three.

"NIF research will be an example of a counter McLuhan paradigm: bits are bits, regardless of the medium through which they are delivered," Professor Negroponte said. "The idea is to explore adjuncts to news as we know it, such as personal information delivery through wired and wireless technologies by computer 'agents' that learn about the reader's interests, plans and current needs."

He said the work will integrate news and advertising in "a seamless information landscape that ranges from the most serendipitous to the most urgent information."

The research includes new technologies for the display of news, including personal digital assistants and reusable paper for printing in the home.

Participating companies include: Aamulehti Group, Inc., ABC Radio Networks and Capital Cities/ABC Publishing Group, Advance Publications, Inc., and Newhouse Broadcasting Corporation, BellSouth Enterprises, Inc., Grupo Consolidado, Gannett Co., Inc., Globe Newspaper Company, Hearst Corporation, International Business Machines, Knight-Ridder, Inc., McCann-Erickson, Reed Elsevier plc, Televisa c.v., Times Mirror Company, and theTribune Company. Six additional companies are considering joining before the July cut-off date.

For more information contact John Hynes, x3-0382, .

A version of this article appeared in the May 12, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 32).

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