News context sidebar
While in college, my friend Seth and I spent a day at the Y-Hack 2013 Hackathon building a browser extension to help people understand the news by showing a sidebar with background information about key concepts in the article, like people, places, or institutions. The project won first place out of 1000+ participants.
Under the hood, the project had some several components that came together to deliver a simple user experience:
- We used the NLTK natural language processing library and the Alchemy API service to detect important entities in an article
- We used the Freebase API and the Bing News and Image Search APIs to fetch information about the entities in an article
- We made a Chrome extension that exposed all this backend functionality, in a simple way. The user could click a single button and get a clean reading experience for any news article, with the sidebar providing summaries and images of key entities as well as links to more information.