NewsBrain: See how the learning process is going

Topics in the Interest Profile

You've been rating some articles, and now it would be interesting to see what NewsBrain has learned about your interests. Here's a way to check it, and help the learning process along as well.

NewsBrain has about two thousand topics it tracks, and it predicts your interest in each of them. To see what it has learned about your interests in these topics, check out your Interest Profile.

On the iPhone, tap the "Profiles" icon at the bottom of the screen once to twice until you see "My Interest Profile" listed. On the iPad, tap the list icon (the one with several horizontal lines near the top left of the screen) to pop up the list, then tap the "Profiles" icon.

Now tap "My Interest Profile" and the screen slides over to show the top level of topics that it is tracking. Here, we see a few very broad topics listed. Each one has a set of subtopics, and most f those have sub-sub-topics, and so on, but there is a better way to see all of the topics and check its learning.

Tap the menu icon in the top right of the list (it looks like a box with lines in it) to make a menu pop up. In the menu, tap "View As..." and then tap "a List by Interest Level".

Now, you will see the full list of topics, sorted with the most interesting topic at the top. You can scroll through this huge list, seeing all the topics. Along the right edge of the list are tiny versions of the familiar smiley faces, and by tapping or sliding up and down over them, you can quickly zip to topics at the corresponding level.

The Interest levels show what NewsBrain has learned so far about your interest in each topic. When you rate an article, the topics relevant to that article have their interest levels adjusted accordingly.

If you see some topics who's levels seem way off, don't worry:

* The topics are all interconnected. "Sports" has "Baseball" and "Football" under it, for example. When the level of any of those three topics are adjusted, the other two will be adjusted as well, by a lesser amount, and in turn, topics connected to them get even lesser adjustments, and so on. And articles themselves are connected to topics relevant to them. In fact, when you rate an article to show your level of interest, a hundred topics or more might end up being adjusted - first the ones relevant to the article, then the ones connected to those, and so on. After you've rated a bunch of articles, a large number of topics, included many not directly related to the articles, will have some learning attached to them. The bottom line is, don't worry too much. Even if NewsBrain is off about its prediction on a topic, the many other connected topics will smooth things out and make up for it, and future learning will tend to fix these outliers.

* You can make corrections to the topics directly! It's very easy, and helps the learning process greatly. When you see a topic in the list that could use some correction, just adjust it the same way you do with articles - press on the interest level to make the slider pop up, and set the proper interest level. That's it! Don't be surprised if the adjusted topic seems to disappear, it didn't. It just moved to its proper placed in sorted order. Don't forget to go to the bottom of the list and raise the level of topics NewsBrain mistakenly thinks are uninteresting as well. Remember the topics are interconnected, so changing the level of one topic usually causes a bunch of related topics to auto-adjust themselves as well, by lesser amounts. If the bouncing around of topics as you adjust them bothers you, you can always do this in another view, such as by topic name.