Our most solution-oriented projects.

Studio class sessions are too short for a full product development cycle, but these projects are some cases where we’ve set out to test out premises and assumptions around problems to be solved and jobs to e done. Sometimes we extend the exploration for another quarter, and sometimes we move the work out of the class and into the hands of Knight Lab staff and student employees for further development.


Conversational Fact Checking

The goal would be to provide factual verification of the news that supports further questions about the context (history, alternative points of view, evidence, etc.) of a news story and/or quote. The challenge would be to provide immediate access to the facts in real or semi-real time.

Creative Co-Author

Creative Co-author is a creative writing enhancement tool that focuses primarily on pounding out the first draft. It is type-ahead cranked up to eleven. It types ahead, lurks behind, and generally peers over your shoulder while you pound out words in a speed-draft writing reverie.

This second iteration of the co-author will build on the research done in the first iteration and focus on moving from concepts developed in that research to a working interactive anti-writer’s-block tool. In particular, we will improve work recommendations by considering context, look into UX improvements to enhance author flow, and will move to sentence-level generation for richer creative inspiration.

Creative Co-Author

Creative Co-author is a creative writing enhancement tool that focuses primarily on pounding out the first draft. It is type-ahead cranked up to eleven. It types ahead, lurks behind, and generally peers over your shoulder while you pound out words in a speed-draft writing reverie.

Factchecking Flow

While Artificial Intelligence is all the buzz, there are a lot of opportunities for technology that augments human intelligence instead of replacing it. An important but time-consuming part of editorial review is verifying all facts in a story. Is there a way we can augment the capabilities of writers and editors to make this work faster and better? Building upon promising results in the Winter edition of the studio class, we will continue developing a system which makes humans more effective in this phase of publishing a story. This project will be a combination of theory and practice: the focus will be on developing a functional system that is as ready for release as possible, but we will keep our eyes out for "stretch" opportunities and invest some time exploring how they might take shape.

Interactive Audio

This team will design an interactive audio/radio story, almost like Choose-Your-Own-Adventure meets Serial. We’ll be creating it for the Amazon Echo, a bluetooth speaker outfitted with microphones so that you can talk to it. What makes this device different is that it has no screen; you command it with your voice. This kind of interaction is relatively new territory; how people talk to it, and how to talk back, will be fertile ground for this project.

Juxtapose Improving a Storytelling Tool

Juxtapose helps storytellers compare two pieces of similar media, including photos, and GIFs. It’s ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time (growth of a city skyline, regrowth of a forest, etc.) or before/after stories that show the impact of single dramatic events (natural disasters, protests, wars, etc.). This popular tool could be more useful to storytellers and web-makers if it had a couple of key features that have come up in user feedback. Auto aligning images and animated GIF social sharing are two features that would be of great improvements.

Legislator Tracker

Since the last elections, public interest in contacting elected representatives about legislation under consideration has boomed. News organizations could do better addressing the public's interest in understanding how their representatives are planning to vote on various issues.

Personalize My Story Automatically Adapting News Article Text for Individual Users

Algorithmic news curation aggregators (e.g. Google News) are sometimes known to personalize the selection of stories shown to individuals. But far less is known about the potential for article-level personalization in which an article is automatically re-written to appeal to different types of users, perhaps even adapted to each individual. Could this be used to manipulate, persuade, inform, or engage people more effectively? The goal of this project is to prototype one or more templates for automated news articles that adapt to different types of people or individuals based on a given user model based on the types of information a news site might know (e.g. gender, age, race, location, interest-level, etc.). These templates will be used to produce personalizable news articles that are published to the web.

Photo Bingo

Create a mobile application which could be used by a news organization to involve their audience in covering a festival while having fun.

Story for You: Writing stories for people who don’t want to read them

Studies have shown that people on opposing sides of political issues use fundamentally different language to discuss their views. One of the effects of this is that people living in News Filter Bubbles can immediately notice and then discard stories that use the terms associated with their opposition.

Storyline: Charts that tell stories.

One of the most common problems we see in data storytelling is how and when to introduce an editorial layer onto a visualization. Mobile devices afford us very little real estate to work with, and interactivity must be limited. But without a “story” layer, users are left without the context to understand what events might impact or inform a trend. They see something going up or down but don’t see why. “Storyline” will be a tool for creating stories around line graphs.

Talking to Data

The aim of this project is to provide users with a conversational interface to data sets that allow them to first describe what the data is about, where the various elements that they can ask about can be found, and then ask questions about the data.

Watch Me Work: Search driven by your own writing

As we work, we often need information to support our thinking. This often requires turning away from the work, pulling up an engine and then typing in a query. If you are writing, however, the queries that we need are already embedded in the text of the document we are authoring.

Faculty and Staff Leads

Joe Germuska

Chief Nerd

Joe runs Knight Lab’s technology, professional staff and student fellows. Before joining us, Joe was on the Chicago Tribune News Apps team. Also, he hosts a weekly radio show on WNUR-FM – Conference of the Birds.

Zach Wise

Associate Professor

Emmy winning interactive producer & Associate Professor @NorthwesternU, @KnightLab. Formerly of The New York Times. Creator of TimelineJS & StoryMapJS