The Swedish Institute for Systems Development, SISU, is starting the development of a framework for highly interactive electronic information services in a distributed environment.The on-going development of computer networks, processing, and display capabilities as well as new types of software is providing new possibilities for the distribution and presentation of information and related services.
One of SISU's projects in this field is targeting the design and development of a daily interactive news service. It is well known that many electronic news services are provided today through various channels. On one hand, we have information providers using for instance CompuServe, Prodigy, and America On-line. These services are updated regularly, often in short intervals, but have an archaic layout consisting of text only. On the other hand, we have information providers using more sophisticated layout including multimedia elements such as images, sound, and video. However, the distribution channels and presentation techniques used by these services rarely allow for short intervals between updates.
An objective for the project is, thus, to develop a news service that allows sophisticated layout facilities as well as short intervals between editions. To accomplish this, the project will study both tools, methods and organisation of the production process.
Interactivity is considered as one of the key elements of an electronic information service. Especially, the possibility to communicate not only with personnel at the news service itself, but with other readers is attracting new groups of subscribers. The daily news service to be developed by this project is having strong requirements on interactivity. Examples of functionality considered for implementation are electronic mail, debate areas, individual selection of news material, and interactive shopping. Additional target areas for the project include billing strategies, advertisements, and intuitive user interface and organisation of news material and services.
The project, which started in October 1994, will present a prototype in the end of January 1995 and a final version in June. The final version will be used for field studies involving a substantial number of test users including individuals at home, schools, and public libraries. The implementation of the news service will mainly be based on commercially available software and hardware. SISU is running the project in collaboration with a large Swedish daily news paper as well as computer and telecom companies.