Author: Hans Gmelig Meyling

Blog 2 Hackathon 2020: Help my info is empty!

As part of the series of blogs about the Oliver Thuisathon (Hackathon, but then at home, November 2020) this time the work of team Opinionator. This time the field of participants contained a relatively large number of one-pits, but in the context of the search for the unexpected, this team was spontaneously formed from Martijn Samuels, Reinout Moes and Hans Gmelig Meyling.

Help my info is empty!

The Opinionator team has chosen to work on a social theme. The problem: social media tries to get people to spend as much time as possible on their platform. They do this by constantly making recommendations based on your previous behavior. That way you always come across the same type of content and you end up in a kind of information bubble.

If you want to develop a broad perspective, you will therefore have to actively look for sites, articles and videos that say something different than what you are used to.

Opinionator

Opinionator is a platform where you can easily develop a broad worldview and discover what is happening beyond your own street. It is a mobile app that offers the widest possible range of news articles based on your choices.

Via the app you can select topics or enter search topics yourself. This indicates which current news event you are interested in. The idea is that users specify "broad" items, such as "US Elections" or "Corona". Then you get a choice from a number of more specific themes that belong to the topic, such as 'last press conference' and 'vaccine' at Corona. After choosing such a more specific category, an anonymous overview is given of titles with short summaries of news items from various media. The user can then click further to the source message based on this.

In this way, as a user, you can see at a glance how different media write about the same event, without immediately being able to see who those media are. In addition, after reading your chosen article, you are also invited to click on a different title and see the news event from a different side.

The App is self-maintained. Users can enter search topics anonymously. Only when these have been found in the dataset are they available as topics. This means that the app cannot be misused as an anonymous messaging platform.

By the way, the news items come from RSS feeds made available by news providers.



Technology of the App

The app needs a backend platform. This is to be able to register topics and to process the RSS data feeds. This platform is implemented as a nodeJS server application. On the front-end of the app was React with Redux and different animations were used to switch between pages and topics.

It has been decided to use circles in the navigation of the app, where this represents a bubble. This way you could pop a bubble and get out of your information bubble. The news topics are then bundled in such a bubble and sub-topics that belong to a news topic fall within it.



Why the Oliver IT Hackathon is so much fun!

Reinout: For me this was the first hackathon ever. Very cool to get an idea developed so far in such a short time. ”

Martijn: “It was great fun to experience my first Oliver IT hackathon and to see how creatively everyone approached their project.”

Hans: “My first approach was to do something with ABAP RAP this time. But Reinout came up with a much more topical idea. Martijn and I were immediately enthusiastic. Choosing a theme was more fun this time than the technology! ”

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Karst Koopman Consultant
Karst Koopman