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You can see the “beta” service in action at: http://open.nysenate.gov/newsclips
Senate Newsclips service was developed to replace a thirty year old offline newspaper clipping operation that was manually performed by senate staff with scissors, glue and photocopiers. As dated as the old process seemed, within it had evolved a very advanced sense of what news was or wasn’t relevant to the NY Senate internal readership. The paper format had also become known and loved, like a ’zine version of Google News with articles clipped, glued on to pages and then stamped with a single topic tag in the upper right hand corner – ECONOMY. HOUSING. CRIME. A tag system using a static taxonomy reminiscent of a dewey decimal like classification.
The challenge of the new, automated “Cylon Newsclips” (as it has been lovingly dubbed) is that it has to both bring the efficiency and cost savings of digital, while also standing up to the time-tested, well-loved offline newsclips. The service also must be available as an online, interactive web resource AND a downloadable, printable offline functional simile of what was previously mass photocopied and distributed across the Senate offices each day.
Using the Daylife service, a semantic news aggregator, the online Newsclips service is able to provide a rich summary of all the news articles from a targeted set of sources (say newspapers only in NY state) about a particular proper name (“Brooklyn”) or topic (“MTA budget”). The service is presented as regularly refresh views for all 62 Senators, the other State executive offices, and a rich hierarchy of relevant topics. In addition a fully interactive keyword search is also offered, in the style of Lexus Nexus or Google News, but limited to news sources relevant to the NY Senate constiuencies. Any of the results can be downloaded and printed ina format that allows for quick scanning through headlines and then the full article or excerpt as available. Finally, all views are available to smartphones such as the iPhone, Blackberry or Google Android.
The first iteration of the new Newsclips service is now available on the Senate intranet. While two months of development can’t match thirty years of hands on learning, the service provides a timely, relevant, paper-free view of the latest news stories covering Senators and important topics for informing legislative work. We are looking forward to continuing improving the service as we get feedback from users over the next thirty years!