Yahoo mashup links maps, RSS to 'visualize' global news

NewsGlobe tool set provides a new way to browse top news stories on Yahoo's web site.

Yahoo yesterday launched a new mashup that allows users to follow news in 3-D as it happens all over the world.

Yahoo's new NewsGlobe tool links the geocoding of Yahoo's Map service to its RSS news feed and then uses a 3-D ActionScript open source library called Papervision3D to provide a new way to browse Yahoo's top news stories.

The application loads Yahoo's RSS news feed every few minutes and extracts a dateline for each story, noted Lucas Shuman, an engineer at Yahoo's Media Innovation Group. It sends this descriptive textural information to Yahoo Maps to find a matching location with latitude and longitude coordinates, he added.

"The rest is simply a matter of using the 3-D classes in ActionScript to create a visually engaging experience that's either automated or interactive," he noted.

"For each story location, we draw a marker object and place it in the proper position on a sphere representing the Earth," Shuman said. "The display is calculated and drawn in real time. This allows us to animate the view over time and even lets the user change the view by interacting with the objects in the scene."

Because the application is a Flash file, it can run online, run on the desktop as an Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) local application, or operate integrated into a Yahoo Widget, he said. "By passing in different RSS feeds or search terms, it could be possible to watch stories occurring in a specific part of the world, from a particular category or matching other keywords," Shuman added.

Mashable blogger Kristen Nicole noted that NewsGlobe is Yahoo's answer to rival Google's Map mashups.

"What really makes me think that Yahoo is out to make NewsGlobe a well-received alternative to static Google map mashups is its availability for throwing it on your desktop (thanks to Yahoo's integration of Adobe AIR), or place it in a widget and use it for your own purposes," she added. "As this is part of Yahoo's open-source suite, there are a number of things developers could do with NewsGlobe or a NewsGlobe-like application. For some reason, people seem to really dig map mashups. You can see live Flickr uploads and even wiki edits. Surely there is some interest for top stories, even if it is on a Yahoo mashup?"

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