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Amazoning The News > Example 1 - NBA Story

Which brings us to the point: What if we told stories the way Amazon sells books.

Example One - NBA Story
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Take a minute to look at this page. This is a page designed by one of my colleagues Shayne Bowman. Look at what Shayne has done here: he's used all the tools that Amazon uses to sell books to tell a story in a new way.

At the top of this page is the URL — which, like Amazon's ISBN numbers, is a unique identifier for this sports event. The unique identifier is what makes Amazon so successful; it's a way of bringing together all the disparate pieces of information that hang off or contribute to our understanding of a book. Same thing can be applied to a sports event or any news event. So while the story changes, it still has something to pivot around — and a way for readers to find their way back. Thus, the so-called 'story' becomes a product, or an object.

Also notice that this story-event works just like Amazon; what appears on the page is determined by a set of reader preferences. It assumes the reader is a Mavericks fan, but if the reader makes choices that show that he or she is a Knicks fan, different elements would appear.

Let's see how the 5 Rules and 5 Experiences play out on this page.

Personality: This page has the personality of a game: it's fast, brash, energetic. The copy is lively. There are reader comments. Headers are direct, no coy or ambiguous language. ESPN makes an appearance here, and rightly so. Their slogan for NHL promotional spots is "Every game has a story."

Time & place: Under the lead item, you're told the amount of time it will take to read the story and when the story was posted. This is a way of managing time expectations and giving a sense of how fresh the material is. Time also comes into play in the "Season At A Glance," as well as with the items about the previous games, today's game, the next game. This is time as a tool, time as navigation. And of course there's a calendar, which makes use of the offline and online network of TV shows, appearances, coach chats.

While we're talking about time, note that there is no time stamp that says "now." That's because this event-object is always changing as the story evolves, as readers get involved, as time marches on. "Now" in this sense is contextual. As for place, this page acknowledges the web's lack of boundaries, by gathering articles from all appropriate geographic sources: the Fort Worth paper, New York newspaper web sites, ESPN.

Network: The web is made up of people, the more the better. This page does everything it can to bring people together. One is the story ranking by readers. The page also tells where this story is most popular, for example at EDS and the University of Texas. This is ranking by geography, although as we'll see there are other ways to rank.

Writing on Editor & Publisher's web site, Steve Outing cited a study at Penn State in which people were asked to judge the quality and credibility of a news article on a web site, based on whether the story had been selected by an editor, or whether it had been highly ranked by other readers. The story chosen by other readers rated higher, even though it was the same story as the one selected by the editor. This page tells you what other stories network members are reading. And it gives you a reward — points — for sending this article to someone else and thus expanding the network.

Interactivity: Speaking of points, look at how this page deals with interactivity. It offers rewards, or "points," particularly for interactivity. So you get points for reading the story, and more points for emailing the story to a friend or participating in a forum.

The points then become redeemable for merchandise at the Mavs store — or to purchase content that is not available for free — allowing people to transact. When the reader buys content, the page assumes he or she is not a member; the page is set up for micro-transactions. Using the reader preferences data, the store can be customized for Knicks fans rather than Mavs fans. And of course simply engaging in "points" gathering is interactivity itself.

Creating certainly is interactive. Here visitors create in traditional forms like the "Talk About the Game" feature. They also create at a higher level - by fashioning what the story, what the page and what the web site itself looks like — every time they choose to click a link, send a comment, make a decision.

Data: Just as Amazon mines its own data bank of books, reviews, rankings, this page seeks out every instance of useful info about the Mavs and brings it up to the reader. So you can see more articles, other sports stories that readers of this page like, and other news stories that readers like. This page takes the data that the site has and turns it into meaningful information.

In the center, the ESPN game immersion material also shows the value of different data types — real-time TV, radio. The whole page is about immersing yourself in data, taking advantage of the obsessive nature of the web. Notice, there is no story here in the traditional sense. The story is what the user makes up from the elements he or she chooses. And the story is always changing, not only as time changes it, but as users contribute to it, rate it.

Also, be aware, that nothing on this example is hypothetical. It combines applications or content now being used by Amazon, ESPN, the Mavericks site and Dallasnews.com.

Next >

0  Pages
1  Web Storytelling
2  Five Web Goals
3  Five Rules for Net Engagement
4  Example 1 - NBA Story
5  Example 2 - News Story
6  Web links
7  Readers respond

0  Related on this page
•  Steve Outing Column
Yes, Interactivity Really Is Good for Your Site.
•  ESPN.com Game Cast
•  ESPN.com Game Flow
•  ESPN.com Mavs page
•  NBA.com Mavs page
•  Shayne Bowman home page


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