Over the past couple days, I spent some time messing around with a little website called VUVOX (pronounced "view vox"). It's an exciting tool that makes it easy to create media-rich presentations using photos, videos and sound without having to learn Flash or purchase any software. The group that launched the site is marketing it to individuals as a way for people to express themselves -- should they have the inkling. But there is at least one strong feature that could allow media organizations to deliver news in a fresh and stimulating way.
Take a look at the example I created below during my fiddling. It's a slide show that gets all its content from Yahoo! News. The creators of VUVOX made it possible for these kinds of slide shows to tap into the kinds of feeds that most newspapers at TV stations have available on their websites already. They're called RSS feeds, or Really Simple Syndication. In this case, Yahoo's RSS feed works really well because most of its entries have a photo attached to them. Because this is a photo slide show, feeds that have only text are useless here.
With just a few clicks to set up, VUVOX snatches those photos from the feed, arranges them into a format of your choosing, and adds links to the story each photo is associated with. In theory, this slide show updates itself whenever the news organization updates its feed.
Right now, VUVOX is a neat toy. In practical terms, it's hard to imagine news organizations using it on a daily basis. But like other neat toys before it (YouTube, Twitter, etc.), this one brings a lot to the table. For one, it harnesses the power of RSS feeds like no other website I know. It's an example of the amazing potential these feeds have -- potential we probably don't even know yet. It's also stands as a strong message to news organizations that they should start tending of their news feeds as much as they do their websites. No longer are these feeds just going to be used as easy ways for busy people to read lots of news. They will be used to bring new readers and viewers in from out in the cold.
Crime news from Yahoo!