Creating content discovery methods in a library of over 7,000 interviews…

Innovent and Storycorp were paired by facilitator Adnaan Wasey who is the curator of the POV’s first Hackathon. During the planning phases we sat with Storycorp to assess their aspirations for the hackathon weekend. With a massive library of interviews, Storycorp wanted to explore  new methods for their audience to discover content. They wanted a visual representation of the story, but one that did not distract from thier core medium. We discussed transmedia and what the Innovent team strives for in every transmedia project. Explaining our aim to develop tiered levels of audience engagement, to explore context in storytelling and to develop new paths of entry within storytelling.

With this in mind we explored new systems of navigating through StoryCorp’s massive archive of interviews, we conceptualized different ways users could explore this library, toying with interactive data visualizations and designing interfaces that filter by

The concepts introduced new ways to highlight story content within storycorps’ library of approx 7,000 interviews. We identified  different paths of entry for users providing new ways to serve and curate the content. However we still had presentations to consider on day two,  Adnaan was pushing us towards restricted set of features to demonstrate, or as he calls it the MVP.  We needed to focus on just one great concept that embodied the story.


Creating a ‘Color to Word’ Association Algorithm

Day 2 of the POV Hackathon brought fresh minds & bright ideas. After a morning of brainstorming we zero-ed in on the concept of color navigation . The team envisioned a way to discover content through color through color and determined that storytelling through color could be an impactful way to communicate the story’s meaning.

Working remotely, I was assigned to data mining for information surrounding color and word based associations. The research led me to a whitepaper that contained the results of a color and word association study, conducted by Faber Birren, Americas renowned expert on color who’s researched provided a basis for the creating the word to color associations

the survey was conducted in the 90′s and  i couldn’t help but wonder how these color interpretations had evolved over time. And what they would look like when posed to different age, race &  cultural groups?   If the psychology behind color is part of an individual’s perception. How could each individual’s perception be recognized within the interface?

With limited remaining time we broke into groups in an attempt to answer these questions and to prepare our prototype for the weekends’ final presentation. Michael Garofalo, Isaac Kestenbaum the producers of Storycorp knew the content well and worked with the Littman story to extract meaningful words and phrases, preparing them for their color pairing.

Antonio Kaplan and Matt Oltendorf started coding the interfaces’ framework . They discovered an API called The sentiment analysis API which classifies words and phrases into positive or negative emotion and provides a numerical scale.  The API uses advanced statistical models trained on social data to derive a conclusion of the words’ positive or negative connotations. it was the perfect tool to aid in our color to word associations.

Armed with the Birren survey research as well as inspiration from Joseph Albers,  &  Piet Mondrian The Littman Story’s  words and phrases were assigned to a color using  data from the birren survey,


The Littman Story Example :


Birren Survey Exerpt:

“ Red is considered to carry the association of intensity, rage, rapacity, and fierceness (Color Psychology and Color Therapy, 143). Furthermore, R. Gerard, the author of Differential effects of colored lights on psychophysiological functions, maintained, “the color red and the emotion of anger both have an energizing effect that calls for actions and are therefore linked to each other.”

*Variants of light and dark assignments  based on the  Sentiment API :



*Positive and negative sentiment results


What would a stories or interview’s crowd-sourced color palettes look like ?

We concluded that audience members  would be provided with a color pallet allowing them to choose a color which reflected how they felt once the story was complete giving audience members to opportunity to contribute via color. The opportunity to work with the producers of Storycorp and POV was inspiring to say the least. I wondered how the  storycorp audiences as a collective, would interpret a stories’ color pallet and how these color interpretations would change and over time and with the contextualization of current events ?  I  hope to further explore the colorful ideas and questions this session produced.




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  1. Year Zero is the fifth studio album by American industrial rock act Nine Inch Nails , released on April 17, 2007, by Interscope Records . Frontman Trent Reznor wrote the album’s music and lyrics while touring in support of the group’s previous release, With Teeth (2005). In contrast to the introspective style of songwriting Reznor used on previous records, Year Zero is a concept album that criticizes contemporary policies of the United States government by presenting a dystopian vision of the year 2022. The album is part of a larger Year Zero project which includes a remix album , an alternate reality game , and a potential television or film project. The Year Zero alternate reality game expanded upon the album’s fictional storyline by using media such as websites, pre-recorded phone messages, and murals.

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