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Experience the full Washington Post investigation: washingtonpost.com/topsecretamerica

Our new immersive reading experience

As part of Top Secret America's debut this morning, we've created an immersive online reading experience that combines all of the elements of our two-year investigation together into a single frame. You can page horizontally through our stories and view photos, video and graphics
without leaving the package. Browse all of our offerings using the top nav bar above the viewing pane or the archive section beneath it.

Some of you have noticed the difference, and indeed, it's a new way to read this content on our site. It's one we believe you'll find more intimate and ultimately better suited to this kind of long-form series. In the past, we've run major multi-part series with many supporting elements, but we've had to publish them all over our website in different formats. They sometimes seem disjointed, and readers who see the stories may miss some of the best photos, interactive graphics, video journalism -- some of the best our Web site has to offer.

So we're trying to put it all together. This format doesn't require you to install Flash or any extra plug-ins to use it. We'd appreciate your feedback after you use it for a while.

If you're looking for a more traditional reading experience, or don't like our new paging feature, click the printer icon along the bottom edge of the reading screen for a single-page, printer-friendly version.

Our comments view for this project is also different than what you may be used to. There you also have another option: at the bottom right, you can choose whether to display comments as a web or as a tree. You may have seen these comments on other Post content, including videos and special interactive projects.

By Lauren Keane  |  July 19, 2010; 8:39 AM ET
 
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Comments

You're kidding, right?

We haven't been attacked since Bush was in office and that doesn't give you any clue?

If NOT being attacked doesn't provide you with any clue that we are being kept safe, no words are going to make you any wiser.

Posted by: lindalovejones | July 19, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Your layout and presentation of the material are outstanding. Great "advance" and innovation. My compliments to you.
As to the "content"? No way I know (being not in the intel line) how accurate the information is--any more than I could separate what is "wheat" and what is "chaff" in the material.
I'm reasonably sure the reporters have exercised care in parsing what is being presented, and as pointed out, much is in the public domain. However, if our "adversaries" are inept in gathering public information, they are certainly being handed a helping hand. Let's hope they reap the chaff.

Posted by: what4gives | July 19, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

This is a horrible, horrible way to read the actual article. I had to click the Printer icon immediately -- what with all the frames, less than a quarter of the page contained the article I was there to read! Why on earth does every page in the article have to be framed in a full bio of the reporters, half a page of Twitter, and on and on? It's the iPad age. It's the netbook age. Don't assume that I've got screen space to burn.

When somebody starts reading the newspaper article, the frames should pull back to be expandable, so that the entire screen space (or almost all of it) is available for the reporting.

Posted by: JonquilSerpyllum | July 19, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The web content will should help paper sales. Difficult to piece together in the web presentation.

Posted by: vapittfan | July 19, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"You can page horizontally through our stories and view photos, video and graphics without leaving the package. "

I read this sentence and then click on the link at

Top Secret America'

I go to the page. I use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom. This stops on the right as a normal sized page. So I can't horizontally browse through everything without any vertical movement.

There are page numbers for the single article. There is an article index. When I click on article index I get a vertical list of articles. So this is not the horizontal browsing.

Below all this are links to articles. But that is vertical scrolling down, not horizontal scrolling. So you miss on horizontal browse it all again.

"Browse all of our offerings using the top nav bar above the viewing pane or the archive section beneath it."

The section that is archive is not labeled archive.

"Nav bar" These are separate segments to click. How are they are a bar? You can't shift this bar, horizontally or vertically, because there is no bar to shift.

Your terms in this explanation article don't correspond to either standard computer controls or terminology or are actually false. You don't have the concept that something like "Nav bar" or "Article Archive" has to be labeled.

You should name your project page and then in this article explaining it, say that is what you mean. At the link to that page, you should say explicitly the page you are talking about is the one linked to.

Your explanations are not much better than the thing that is next to the thing is the thing. Its below it in the sense that you use the wrong words and terminology or misleading ones. Nor do you have any concept of what you are doing wrong.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | July 19, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The intelligence community should at least in general be able to explain how it spends its budget and what the results are.
The time has come for a public assessment of the fruits of your actions. We want the statistics.

From the Washington Post article by Diana Priest and William M. Arkin "A hidden world, growing beyond control",
page 5:
...to gauge the success and identify the problems of Top Secret America, including whether money is being spent wisely. The U.S. intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion, 2 times the size it was on Sept. 10, 2001. But the figure doesn't include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs.
page 10:
When Maj. Gen. John M. Custer was the director of intelligence at U.S. Central Command, he grew angry at how little helpful information came out of the NCTC. In 2007, he visited its director at the time, retired Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, to tell him so. "I told him that after 2 years, this organization had never produced one shred of information that helped me prosecute three wars!"
page 15:
And so Abdulmutallab was able to step aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. As it descended toward Detroit, he allegedly tried to ignite explosives hidden in his underwear. It wasn't the very expensive, very large 9/11 enterprise that prevented disaster. It was a passenger who saw what he was doing and tackled him.
http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/

Acting Director of National Intelligence, David C. Gompert, reaction to the Washington Post series:
"...the fact is, the men and women of the Intelligence Community have improved our operations, thwarted attacks, and are achieving untold successes every day."
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2010/07/20100719_release.pdf

In my humble opinion the intelligence community should at least in general be able to explain how it spends its budget and what the results are.
The time has come for a public assessment of the fruits of your actions. We want the statistics (not the classified information).
Thank you.

Posted by: novaloka | July 19, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

One of the major problems here in the US has to do with the fact that we are always trying to keep a competitive advantage. We're not only witholding information from out own people, but our negligence to the rest of the world creates the ignorance and tension that brings terrorists to our doorsteps.

Because of all the false numbers, many of us have this mentality that we shouldn't be trying to solve other countries problems because of our own, yet the amount of money is not the primary issue, nor is how we're spending it. The issue is how we communicate and exchange information with our people and the people accross the globe.

The reason this issue should be immediately and priorily addressed, is because the world is in peril as our natural resources fade away. So it's very important that we come together on a global scale, helping other countries to rid themselves of the corruption as we expose our own.

As long as we try to remain secretive and hold back, the world will also and our competitiveness will be our demise.

Money is a man-made material. And as the dollar pivots downward at an alarming rate, we must recognize that we can recreate currency. It's the failure to endow a universal attitude towards the end of corruption for humanity that maintains our problems.

Without a doubt, as our energy crisis increases, and fushion and nuclear energy become more available and exploited, and we continue to ignore this need for right relationship between nations and information sharing, we will be in danger of nuclear war.

If we think very simply about what war is, that people who feel taken advantage of, underclassed, and poor, as well as value power and control, they will retaliate against any force, and the future forces that come to be.

Our need to create innovation and sell it to the rest of the world as we seep the money from our taxpaying public has fed a few greedy mouths while we all starve. With the war in Iraq to our side and growing crisis in Mexico, we will inevitably have to trade one war for another in a short time.

By keeping smart students poor around the country, we teach many of those who persever to value power and control, because that's the only way to get ahead. The society we built creates monsters as well as heroes because of the fact that it is our reaction to our experiences that makes us who we are. Look at Lee Harvey Oswald as a prime example. A man who has the desire to be someone important, without being taught that he is not bigger than the whole, obviously will fall to either side of the line.

The people at the top are either aware bigger problems are coming, or they deny it in which case they're still not helping the rest of us to find out. So without the real information and learning what to do with it, we won't be ready for what's coming in the future.

Posted by: st3jace | July 19, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Your reader is the worst posssible format in a world where every little bit of information is monitored by secret agencies!
Why?

Usually such documents are provided as PDF or a large indexed webpage (HTML with anchors/ids). So only the fact that a link was clicked on is noticed on the server, not if the page was of particular interest to the reader.

Your page flipping device usually returns information (via Ajax or XML protocol) of the actual reading of the document (and time spend on each page) back to the server. Which can be stored in a database and later analysed by intelligence services.

Posted by: novaloka | July 19, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I can tell this went through a grand total of maybe 30 minutes of user testing. They layout is vastly more complicated than it needs to be, the apps are confusing and add little value, and they're poorly integrated into the story.

This is the 2010 version of a college freshman's webpage from 1998. Back then, it would be filled with animated gifs, blinking text, dozens of links to random pages, all buried within 3 or 4 frames.

It's a shame, because this story ought to be evaluated and thought about, but instead the presentation gets completely in the way.

I've read many, many complaints about this effort, and I sincerely hope the Post doesn't engage in bunker mentality and start denying the problems. The fact that only one comment on the site appeared in the live discussion with Dana Priest and William Arkin suggests to me that there's already a damage control effort on. Be upfront, be honest, and go back to the drawing board, starting by publishing this in a simple, easy to read format (and no, clicking on the "print" button doesn't count).

Posted by: juiiddmm | July 19, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I just happened across this article on Yahoo and once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. I found the topic an eye-opener. I was also struck by the amount of research it took and the number of sources used.

The end result should be a full accounting of the billions of dollars of taxpayers money that is being spent. The public should know if this money is being used efficiently and effectively. There is way too much of the "I'm more important than you" and "my budget/building/staff is bigger than yours" attitude in our country.

By the way....I found the format very easy to use.

Posted by: cjed51 | July 20, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

I find the "immersive reading experience"
terrible.

I'd like to be able to set a cookie so that this "feature" never, ever appears on my screen, for any reason at all.

The single page, printer friendly version suits me just fine.

I think you are trying to improve something that ISN'T BROKEN.

Posted by: jackdwills | July 20, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Yes me again,
about the security risks of your type of reader. The intelligence agencies may pick up on this document format to exploit the possibilities I sketched above.
Yours actually uses AJAX XML-http protocol as you can easily see in the Source of this page. (search AJAX)

But we don't know what kind of information is send back to the server. If your programmer has a security clearance I would start worrying about this. Maybe the CIA uses the Washington Post as a test case.

Getting paranoid?

To make sure, an independent JavaScript consultant should be hired to go through the code line by line. And there are a lot of JavaScript files under the hood.
Why not use a foreign contractor for this? That could be me!!!

You find me under http://www.novaloka.nl/
I am a crazy mathematician as you can see.
I handcrafted this page myself, so I have some expertise.

I would be honoured by the Washington Post, and my fee would be:
Lifelong free digital access to the Washington Post or International Herald Tribune.

Thank you, I hope you consider my offer.

Posted by: novaloka | July 20, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Kill the immersive experience, at least for the core series, or alternately present it in the traditional WaPo format as an option. This horizontal format is practically unusable, particularly on mobile devices.

Posted by: endhaiku | July 20, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Hi, here's your counter-espionage consultant again.
Sorry to keep nagging on about the strange choice you've made to introduce an AJAX reader that is potentially able to send so much information about the way it is read back to the server.

Even if the Washington Post doesn't apply and exploit all of the intelligence such a reader can provide, government agencies such as Homeland Security may opt to install AJAX based readers on their website, to gather information how their documents are read.

Once the public has accepted these interactive readers this may easily happen.

My offer (see post above) still stands, but in this lights your contribution may only have been to foster public acceptance of the use of such the reader.

Who came up with the idea for the change in presentation in the first place at the Post?

Posted by: novaloka | July 20, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

SMALL GOVERNMENT, Republicans??? Me thinks ye may be Deaf - Dumb - and Blind! Even whilst ye watch and listen to everything that anyone and everyone says in private! hahaha hahahaha hahahaha ha. so much for "human intelligence". Or Intelligent Design, for that matter. We're just dumb homos practicing to become -sapiens. We need to practice harder, obviously...

Posted by: LawsLuvr | July 21, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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