Creating 'points of involvement'

Emilie Davis and Steve Davis | Syracuse University

On the Web, readers find many points of entry, including one that we call a point of involvement. With points of involvement, readers not only can choose their points of entry, but they also can participate in what they choose. Online, it’s all about “added value” for readers and finding ways to keep them in action.

Exercise: Create points of involvement, or POIs

Have students find a print story that interests them. It should be a substantial piece, not a brief. Ask students to read the story graph by graph and to come up with ideas for points of involvement. Discuss and exchange ideas. See how many of the ideas accomplish the following goals:

- Add value to a story
- Let readers create personal experiences
- Keep readers actively involved in a story or on a site

i>Example of video as a POIP>Students in a class were working on a story about texting and driving. They learned from their research that when people text while driving, they take their eyes off of the road for five seconds. So, the students decided that after every interview for the story, they would ask each person to close his or her eyes for five seconds; then the students would explain why. That simple exercise - captured on video for the Web - added value to what already was a good story about a controversial and newsworthy topic.

Examples of interactive devices as POIs

The Web’s interactive devices, such as calculators, maps and graphics, are natural ways to create points of involvement:

- Readers can plan their personal routes to work around a construction site.

- Readers can plot their own retirement plans by plugging in different investment options and choosing the best one.

- Readers can calculate how long they must walk on a treadmill to burn a certain number of calories or lose a desired number of pounds.

- Readers can click on a word and get the definition and pronunciation; click on a company and get its profile; or click on a name and get a bio.

Once you get started, it’s easy - and fun - to create POIs that do not take much time or money, with advance thinking and the use of free software.

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