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News platform with INESC TEC's know-how rewarded with EUR 10M

The new Portuguese news aggregation platform is called “Conta-me histórias” and received EUR 10 million for the first place under the Arquivo.pt Prizes 2018. 

04th July 2018

The award ceremony took on 3 July, at the Science Summit 2018, in the plenary session "New frontiers of the digital age in Europe and in the world", which was attended by the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation of the European Commission, Carlos Moedas.

Launched for the first time this year, the Arquivo.pt prizes aim at rewarding innovative scientific works that use the information preserved by Arquivo.pt, a public research infrastructure that enables the search and the access to files archived from the web pages archived since 1996.

In this first edition, which had 27 participants, the prize went to the project 'Conta-me Histórias', a web technology that allows the user to create a temporal narrative on any subject from news archived in Arquivo.pt. The technology was developed by four researchers of INESC TEC’s Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Decision Support (LIAAD) and one of the Kyoto University.

A trial version (beta) of the platform is only available in Portuguese at http://contamehistorias.inesctec.pt/arquivopt/, where the user can freely search on any topic and also try some predefined examples.  As a way of ensuring the plurality and the diversity of the sources of information, 'Conta-me Histórias' uses 24 electronic sources of news, including newspapers and national portals.

The obtained results can be exploited using a timeline that allows users to navigate between different periods of time, and thus obtaining contextualised information about a given subject.

Regarding the areas of application and the potential beneficiaries, Ricardo Campos, researcher of INESC TEC’s LIAAD and Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Tomar, mentions that "being a tool based on news, this application may be in the interest of any user, from journalists who want to have quick access to a contextualised set of information, to politicians or advisors who want access to possible inconsistencies that a particular opponent expressed on any subject or even students interested in obtaining detailed and historical information on a particular topic. Basically, any user interested in quickly understanding the main actors of an event, their relations, motivations, and journeys over time, without having to read the whole sources of data”.

Among the factors that motivated the emergence of this project are the increase in the number of publications and consequent increase in the volumes of data (big data), which makes it almost impossible for the ordinary citizen to understand the storyline of a news over time without auxiliary tools. The INESC TEC’s researcher believes that 'Conta-me Histórias' is an important contribution to a more transparent democracy, strengthening a free and democratic access to information, based on facts and generally free of filters, because it uses different sources of news.

The platform was develop by Ricardo Campos, researcher of INESC TEC’s LIAAD and Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Tomar, Arian Pasquali and Vitor Mangaravite, also researchers of INESC TEC’S LIAAD, Alípio Jorge, coordinator of INESC TEC’S LIAAD and Professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto, and Adam Jatwot Professor at the Kyoto University.

"The name 'Conta-me Histórias' is a tribute to the song of the Portuguese band Xutos & Pontapés, with the intention of portraying one of the goals of the project, that is, to tell stories to the user. As the lyrics of the song, the stories had to be related to something that an individual didn't see or of which he doesn’t remember. ", ends Ricardo Campos.