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Google Chrome Users, Terra Incognita Brings Serendipity and Curiosity to Your Browsing

Screenshot from the Terra Incognita wesbite.

Screenshot from the Terra Incognita website.

An Airport Siege in Pakistan. Protests in Venezuela. Girls Kidnapped in Nigeria. 

Are you frustrated with the selective background information you have on these places, because of the nature of the news beast? What if you could easily access relevant, fun, or stereotype-busting information about these places without raking up the frequent flier miles? 

Terra Incognita: 1000 Cities of the World is designed to “engineer serendipity” for all Google Chrome users, to discover nuanced views, outside the normal news frame, about 1000 global cities, by simply downloading their free Chrome extension from the Chrome Web store. 

From the Terra Incognita website:

Whereas many recommendation systems connect you on the basis of “similarity”, Terra Incognita connects you to global news on the basis of serendipity. Each time you open the application, Terra Incognita shows you a city that you have not yet read about and gives you options for reading about it. Chelyabinsk (Russia), Hiroshima (Japan), Hagåtña (Guam) and Dhaka (Bangladesh) are a few of the places where you might end up.

Once you download the free extension, you can launch it by clicking on the Terra Incognita button in your address bar, which will ask you for a one-time login email address. You'll have to sign a user-study consent form and answer a short pre-study survey form (will only take a minute), before you can start browsing through Terra Incognita. 

Terra Incognita is an MIT Center for Civic Media project. It has been built by Catherine D'Ignazio with Matt Stempeck and Ethan Zuckerman (one of GV's co-founders!). 

For people unfamiliar with what “extensions” are, they extend the functionality of Google Chrome and the websites being viewed in it. For example, this extension appears in Google Chrome by adding a new button to the address bar. Compared to apps, extensions cut across websites and web apps. 

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