The makers of FOLD describe their site as ‘an authoring and publishing platform for creating modular, multimedia stories’. Built as open source by Alexis Hope and Kevin Hu of MIT, it is designed to provide background context to news stories. In an interview with Journalism.co.uk Hope explains how she and Hu were inspired to build FOLD by a desire to fully understand international events. >‘As events like the crisis in Crimea and the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 were developing last year, Hope and co-founder Kevin Hu found themselves reading up on the history of Crimea and researching how radar works. “All these questions that unfold from breaking news led us down rabbit holes, or [it] took us a long time to just understand the basic facts to help us put the emerging news in context,” she said’.
The site is structured with ‘cards’. The main story unfolds on a vertical access, with further cards on a horizontal access providing links to background stories, images, data etc. This contextual information opens within new tabs to provide running background research which expands upon the main story. >”It’s context cards anchored around a sort of narrative core. And then to add new context cards, we hooked into different services like YouTube and Google Maps and image hosting services,”
Providing curated background information to news stories isn’t a new digital idea. BBC News Labs Radar, reviewed Timeline (see Journalism Tech Radar - Timeline 27th Jan 2015) earlier this year, which explores the same ideas, but with a smartphone app format. It’s hard to see this kind of explainer format being adopted for reporting breaking news by time pressured journalists. However, to an extent FOLD addresses this issue; >“… you don’t have to create your own context. We’re trying to make it easy to pull in content that already lives elsewhere on the web. Your role as a journalist would be just to curate it and link it, if you want, to your main text.”
At the moment however, rather than keeping up with current news events, FOLD seems to be working as an interesting experimental idea for storytelling pieces and explainer journalism, and is well worth checking out.