Making it work
I’ve been plugging away at the XSL loop for a solid week now. I think I’ve nearly exhausted all that XSLT can do for this project, which I am mainly using to call information from a massive database when certain conditions are met. For example, I was able to make it so that when “Israel” is selected as the location, all of the stories involving Israel will show up with the news item’s headline (wrapped in the story’s permalink), over the publication date, the lede and icons corresponding to the news item’s format (text, audio, video and commentary).
Although I include the publication date as part of each item’s presentation, it will not bear any impact the site’s organizing principle. Each item’s story location(s) will also show up as a dot on a world map. Hovering over either a dot or its corresponding news item’s box brings focus to both the news item and the dot (i.e. by fading out all other story items and dots).
Lowering the dots’ opacity to about 5%, which is achieved through with a simple RGB command such as “opacity:.05,” also allows for another way to topographically display the semantic relevance among different news items. The more stories in a news archive that have a specific location in common—such as the Maule Region in Chile and Port-au-Prince, Haiti stories for the search term “earthquake”—the more opaque a dot appears in those locales. This practice can also make the site more interesting for general browsing by topic and perhaps someday as an archived news stream, similar to RSS feeds but presented in a much more contextual and interesting way.