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MSNBC launches Spectra; you've really gotta take a look...

I just noticed a short post in UX magazine on the beta of MSNBC visual newsreader and decided to investigate a little further.

Spectra

I clicked through to the beta site for Spectra Visual Newsreader, with the tagline: A Fuller Spectrum of News.

Okay, what does "A Fuller Spectrum of News" mean?. In this case it means you can pick and choose the news you want from a spectrum of topics, and then see a visual, rotating display of current new items in the categories you've chosen.

How's that possible? Spectra was developed using Papervision 3D, an Open Source realtime 3D engine for Flash (versions 8 and 9 so far), developed and licensed by MIT. Not only is Spectra an exciting display of visual information, but some of the other projects featured on the Papervision 3D blog are fantastic, too. Papervision 3D looks to be a very promising engine for developing 3 dimensional Flash animations and interactive applications.

There's even a section for Newsvine, for those of us interested in the further integration of Newsvine into MSNBC.

Now, will this replace my newsreader? I don't think so, however it's a fun way to interact with news, I might try it fairly often, to see if I'm learning anything new. And, there's a search function, so I might give it a whirl when searching for news items on specific topics. I think it'll find a place in my rss toolbox, especially as it matures as an application.

More Newsware

I was also intrigued by a nav button on the Spectra site that says: NewsWare. "What's Newsware anyway?", I thought to myself. Well, it seems that MSNBC is taking a hint from Google, and is developing some other pretty interesting online apps in addition to Spectra. Check it out for: Apps, Arcade, Widgets, Feeds, Dispatch and Podcasts. All news-related, worth a view. Looks like MSNBC is exploring new ways to interact with its reading public. Let's see how other news organizations take up this challenge.