I listened to NPR the whole weekend, and I think it can be developed into a habit.
I enjoyed having something to listen to mindlessly that’s not music when walking to class, browsing the internet, emailing, writing or just chatting with friends. Although it did require a bit more focus than just listening to music to be actually absorbing the material. The interface was like that of the music player that gave me the flexibility to change the story or pause just on the lock screen. I like that between the news stream, there are little audio tracks that tell you how to personalize news, explaining where to find the “interesting” button, how to skip stories and swipe left to find out what’s next.
NPR One started the personalization with gaining access to my geographic location and fed me news stories from Michigan Radio. I then took note of the different categories of stories that came through my NPR One. My series of audio news tracks included the current Michigan news, under the category, “Michigan Radio” about events happening in Michigan, not topic specific. “Around the nation” was the category of news that featured current news stories of the U.S, similar to “Michigan Radio” it was not topic specific. The more topic specific categories of news that then came through my headphones were “health news”, “the salt”, “research news”, “technology” “politics”. I tapped the “interesting” button on “the salt” and “research news” as “the salt” features stories involving food and “research news” told me a lot about the new discoveries from the various type of scientists. Within the stream of news, there will also be something similar to podcasts with many episodes, that I can scroll through to select. I tapped “interesting” for”Planet Money”, “Hidden Brain” too.
I was really worried at first that if I skipped stories in the categories that I “interested”, I would not be able to hear anymore stories similar to that. However, I would still get them fed into my news stream. And not only those categories that I picked came through but similar categories also jumped into my streams, like “health news” and “food”. When news in categories that I didn’t pick show up, there will be a line of small text that says “We think you’ll find this interesting”.
What I didn’t ever tap “interesting” was for “politics” and “around the nation” but I would still get a lot of political news all the time, which I didn’t like quite that much. The other thing I would say that I’m not fully satisfied with is that, even though it offered varieties of categories of news, compared to Apple News, which aggregates news from every outlet, NPR One still lacked a lot of variety. I would get repeating news and I think that with time, if that remains the case then it will get users to be less patient. On the other hand, I especially like the podcasts, they are longer than news and often in dialogue/interview format which made listening to them very easy. Therefore, overall, I think that the algorithm selected pretty well. I would rate it a B+, if it didn’t feed me that much politics.
I would definitely try to continue developing this into a habit and increase the range of stories I “interest” to broaden my general knowledge rather effortlessly. The simple interface made using it extremely easy which I liked too. Although, I would want to be able to pick the categories at first, right after I sign up for the NPR One app.