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An Index for Interactive Storytelling

Media Morph: Times Innovation Portfolio

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WHAT IT IS: The New York Times has been lauded for its experimental approach to interactive storytelling. Heck, it was a big reason we named it to the Digital A-List last year. But sometimes those features have been hard to find, which is why we like the Innovation Portfolio, where it's compiled the best of the best in one place. The site was created to sell ads, and the Times is weighing the potential of whether it should also be consumer-facing. "It's built to be trade-facing ... to have that discussion about the next generation of brand engagement online," said Jill Simmons, in The New York Times' creative-services division.

WHAT YOU'LL FIND: All of the best interactive features from the Times' repository, as well as a way to sort by category: virtual, multimedia, personal tools, interactive graphics, user-submitted and applications. You'll see the "Tweet Bowl," which mapped Twitter terms and sentiment from across the country during the Super Bowl. There's the much-discussed "Word Train," which asked people on Election Day to enter one word that summed up their state of mind. And you'll find the "Charting Time" feature, which illustrates how different types of people spent their days in 2008.

WHY IT MATTERS: The future media company will have to be fluent in designing stories for a variety of channels. But too few media companies -- and advertisers -- have embraced this type of experimenting. Even though the Times has done a stellar job of showing how a story in print can be applied differently to better effect online, it's still not clear if and how it can monetize these features. But making these examples easier to find is a step toward figuring that out. The Innovation Portfolio should provide inspiration for journalists, advertisers and interactive designers, as well as some easy-to-find digital storytelling.

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