At one point, many friends told me they don’t follow the news because it is too depressing. This is a legitimate claim. Research has shown there is an overall ratio of 17:1 negative to positive news. This affects us. We are likely to be more sad and worried about our own problems when we over-consume negative content. When I participated in Hacking Journalism 2014, I wanted to see if I could change our relationship to news. I pitched an idea for a mood ring inspired news app and fortunately found a dream-team to help bring a prototype to life in just a day.
Nick, James and I testing in the final hours. Image via @garrettwilkin
Conceptual user flows and storyboards.
Working out the Concept
As a team, we started to narrow in on what our minimal viable product could be. We originally hoped to use a sentiment analysis tool, but realized there could be a fair degree of error relying on a non-human interpreter. We also recognized that topics such as politics would pose a conundrum because it’s difficult to determine positive or negative associations without understanding the reader's political affiliations. 
Ultimately, we realized that people experience news as positive or negative in different ways and that our app would cater to a reader’s personalized responses.  The app asks readers to rate their moods as they read different articles and then used that information to produce an aggregate of their overall state of being during any given news-reading session. 
We kept the rating system simple with just a happy, neutral or sad face in order to test the tool at its most basic rating level.
Our next step was to come up with a name. The focus on 3 simple states of emotion that could lead to a wide range, felt very analogous to a favorite childhood treat, the Bombpop (astropop or rocketpop if you're from other regions), and so it’s name was born!
The Pitch
Bombpopper wants you to understand how news consumption affects your mood.
As you rate your mood while consuming news to keep track of your overall state of being, the bomb popper will help you keep track of your overall mood via color and label. Start reading to see if you have a balanced news diet!
UX / Design: Lindsey Wagner
UX / Design / Front End: Nick Dynan
Backend Dev: James Zhang
Backend Dev: Luís Brandao

Awarded Best UX @ Hacking Journalism 2014
Integrated with the Guardian's API 

Interesting Reads
Why We Love Bad News, Psychology Today
The Psychological Effects of TV News, Psychology Today


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