Topics Screen

What is an Interest Profile?

An Interest Profile tracks your personal level of interest in a very wide variety of topics. NewsBrain uses the profile to help it predict your interest in the news articles it scans. You can see and change your Interest Profile on the Profiles Screen, available by tapping NewsBrain's Profile tab.

The Interest Profile consists of a very large set of topics, arranged in a hierarchical tree format. At the first level are the broadest topics, like "sports" and "politics". Under each topic, there are more specific ones. Under "sports", topics include "baseball" and "football". Going down another level, under "baseball", you'll find "American League" and "National League". 

Each topic in the profile has an Interest Level setting, which indicates your level of interest in that particular topic. An Interest level can range from strong dislike, through neutrality, to strong like. At first, NewsBrain has no idea of your interest in the topic, so it starts out with at the neutral, centered, level. There are two ways this level can change. First, you can change it yourself, by adjusting the topic's level via an Interest View or the Topic Info Screen. The second, or more common way occurs is when you give feedback about articles you read.

If you adjust a topic directly, not only does that topic's level change, but topics related to it are also affected, to a lesser extent. For example, if you increase the interest level of "sports", all the topics under it, such as "baseball" and "football" also increase slightly. And since "baseball" got that slight increase, "American League" and "National League" get an even smaller increase. Conversely, if you decrease the level on "New York Yankees", the level of "American League" is slightly decreased, as is, to a lesser extent, "baseball" and perhaps even "sports", by a miniscule amount. In fact, since "baseball" got a small adjustment, even"National League" and everything under it gets a tiny adjustment.

These automatic adjustments get smaller and smaller as the connections to the original topic are farther away, until they become insignificant. These adjustments propagating through the profile are part of NewsBrain's learning process.

When you are viewing an article, an Interest View is displayed, showing NewsBrain's prediction of your interest in the article. At first, NewsBrain doesn't know your interests, so it predicts a neutral, centered level. When you adjust this level to reflect your true interest, NewsBrain uses this feedback to adjust all the topics that were relevant to the article. Thus, if you express interest in an article about the New York Yankees, that topic, and others that may be relevant, such as "baseball" and, to a lesser extent, "sports" will be increased. Which topics are relevant to an article, and their level of relevance, is something NewsBrain computes during its Article Evaluation process.