Is this the newspaper I’ve been looking for?

A short while ago I expressed the view that, the Twitter-based newspaper, was no longer for me. I don’t like the lack of control over what is published, and it started to look a lot like spam. I experimented with a couple of other similar services, and they did nothing much for me.

But Microsoft's Montage looks promising. Although you still don’t have control over what appears in particular streams, you do  have a say in what types of stream are featured, and (to an extent), the layout. Thus you can choose from:

  • Bing Twitter maps
  • Images
  • News
  • RSS
  • Text
  • Twitter timeline
  • Twitter and
  • Video

Some of the feed options in Microsoft's Montage

A nice touch also is that if you select an RSS feed, you can decide whether to display the articles in a list or in a slide show format. Either way they change every few seconds, bringing the display to life.

One thing I don’t like much is the Images option. To be specific, the images that show up seem a bit hit and miss, and typing in a keyword doesn’t seem to make an awful lot of difference. I tried to “cheat” by using my name, in the hope that it find only my own pictures, but to little avail. And that, incidentally, was not an example of control freakery on my part, but an attempt to get round the problem that, as far as I can tell, there is no indication of whether the photos found have a Creative Commons licence attached to them.

What is doubly strange about this is that when you go to the video feed app, you are presented with a choice: either a similar search option to the images feed, or use an actual URL. Why not have the same arrangement for the images feed?

I have to say though that, on the whole, I do like this, not least because it has presented me with articles and Twitterers I haven’t encountered previously. If you’d like to read my ICT in Education montage, just click on that link.

The ICT in Education newspaper created with Montage

But why not also create your own, and why not have your students create their own? Because the elements of layout design and information type can be chosen rather than created, they can concentrate on discussing the right layout and content for their audience.

You could also use this for your own professional development, for team professional development, and for keeping students up-to-date with the news, and thereby keeping your lessons forever current and lively.