Guardian Zeitgeist filters news by ‘attention of users’

The Guardian is experimenting with a new feature on its website to show trending news, topics and articles from the website in an innovation beyond typical “most read” and “most commented on” lists. The stories appearing on Zeitgeist and the order in which they appear on the page is driven by “the attention of users”, rather than by editors, like the site’s front page, or by metadata, such as showing blog posts in chronological order. To create the visualisation the behaviour of readers is being analysed to determine the attention different articles and content has received from readers, including: what sites they come to the Guardian form and go to after; how long they stay on a page; if they share links to a page on social sites; and the number of comments on a piece. “It’s different from “most read” or “most commented” lists, because it draws on far more data, and analyses it in a sophisticated way to generate more meaningful results,” said developers Meg Pickard and Dan Catt. The feature will also be of use to Guardian journalists and web teams: “The data produced by this can provide additional insight about what captures people’s attention and how that attention and engagement evolves over time, which may lead to a deeper understanding of how people consume, transfer and engage with content in a medium which is still (relatively) young and always changing.” Work is still being done on Zeitgeist and the current version is described as “functional”.


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