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Google's News
September 23, 2002 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Google's News has launched as a new tab on their other search interfaces with a heavy redesign, though it still carries a "beta" label. The front page changes every few minutes based on some hidden popularity algorithm, as do the sub-pages. Featuring a stark ad-free design that looks quite a bit more attractive than or any other major news site, perhaps robot-collected news is the wave of the future.
posted by mathowie (40 comments total)

Wow, I have this odd romance for Google. They are to the Internet as Habitat For Humanity to communities.
posted by Jevon at 7:37 AM on September 23, 2002

I doubt that robot-collected news is the wave of the future. Not that Google news isn't good (it's excellent), but in order for a robot to collect the news, you need someone human to go out, get it, write it up and then put it on-line.
posted by ralawrence at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2002

After months of using Google news I was a bit shocked this morning. I'm sure I'll get ysed to it and love it, but I sure did like the simple all text of the previous version. It still loads up right quick in classic Google style.
posted by anathema at 7:42 AM on September 23, 2002

Beautiful. I have placed it at the top of my News bookmarks folder, and there it shall stay.

Heh, look at the footer line:
"No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page."
posted by brownpau at 7:43 AM on September 23, 2002

Since it's linked to from as well as, it would have been quite nice to see either a slightly less US-centric page or some customisation facilities, but I'm nit-picking here.

Overall, not bad at all.
posted by Nick Jordan at 8:03 AM on September 23, 2002

you need someone human to go out, get it, write it up and then put it on-line.

an aside: there's a famous satyrical short story by Ennio Flaiano (Italian author, newspaper columnist and also screenwriter, he wrote most of Fellini's best movies like La Dolce Vita and I Vitelloni not to mention 8 1/2, and also Antonioni's La Notte).

A great, Chekhovian short story, it's called "Hyenas", and it's about this newspaper city editor who hires a few hyenas, and in a few weeks they simply take over the newsroom, and the publisher fires all the reporters because they're simply not as good at finding good stories and running the paper -- that's hyena-collected and assembled news for ya

and, google news is an excellent, excellent tool
posted by matteo at 8:08 AM on September 23, 2002

I always found Google news to actually contain lots of euronews, especially sports.
posted by anathema at 8:09 AM on September 23, 2002

For our admittedly small Italian-speaking MeFi community, here's the entire Italian text (pdf file, it's on page 2)
I don't think there's an English version now in print
posted by matteo at 8:13 AM on September 23, 2002

Giving it a quick look-see, I'm marginally pleased. It's not going to replace the very similar NewsHub, which I used for years, in my news scans anytime soon. But I will add it to the rotation.
posted by GreyWingnut at 8:13 AM on September 23, 2002 - The Unnofficial Good Press Release
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:14 AM on September 23, 2002 - The Unnofficial Google Press Release
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:14 AM on September 23, 2002

The headline story on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is taken from Yahoo and is dated Thursday September 19: which is hardly new news ...1
posted by carter at 8:16 AM on September 23, 2002

I like how waived their registration page :)
posted by samsara at 8:23 AM on September 23, 2002

Besides the US column on the right, the top stories just now were Schroeder and Arafat, not very US Centric (except in some sort of paranoid neo-colonial sense).

Google's News FAQ says that it crawls over 4000 news sites around the world and that it determines the items that appear on the google news page by, among other things, the frequency with which certain stories or topics appear.

It would seem, thus, that one should not blame Google for the news summary being US centric, if indeed it is at times, but rather one should criticize the Global Media.
posted by i blame your mother at 8:24 AM on September 23, 2002

I wonder how soon until someone accuses the Googlebots for conservative/liberal bias?
posted by owillis at 8:32 AM on September 23, 2002

I love Google News! This is the greatest thing to hit the web in a long, long time.
posted by PoliticalJunkie at 8:54 AM on September 23, 2002

I'm guessing that the hidden algorithm is made to pull up what people are most interested in - and I'm finding myself wishing for a mode that pulled up what people were least interested in, but that's just me, always wary of the dangers of groupthink.
posted by holycola at 9:00 AM on September 23, 2002

Hmmm....still prefer the Beeb.
posted by Duug at 9:07 AM on September 23, 2002

This is a great idea, and it's already well-executed.

owillis' comment kinda made me think, though: Now that so many stories about the same subject are automatically grouped together, there must be some fun things that can be done as far as contrasting how the stories are covered by the various sources. Who's gonna build the first "bias bot" that crawls these stories looking for spin?
posted by adameft at 9:28 AM on September 23, 2002

holycola, that is a truly inspired idea.

To extend your proposal: I can imagine a Google News version of Amazon Purchase Circles. The idea being that you could view what other groups are reading. View liberal news, view what conservatives are reading most, etc. What are technology workers reading? Of course that would involve either profiling of users or profiling new sites, and We the People don't like profiling.
posted by i blame your mother at 9:33 AM on September 23, 2002

Now this is reasonably nifty. And not too UScentric considering cricket is the 3rd sports story...
posted by i_cola at 9:39 AM on September 23, 2002

but in order for a robot to collect the news, you need someone human to go out, get it, write it up and then put it on-line.

It's not either/or. Up until now, most news sites only linked to their own articles, meaning you'd need to visit several sites to get a more rounded perspective. Robot news, in addition to the wealth of sites already writing news by humans, is the future.

Just like RSS for Blogs. I don't care about design, I just want to read the content.
posted by jragon at 9:39 AM on September 23, 2002

I'm actually a bit disappointed to see that only selects stories in English, from what I can see. While I'm not a native speaker of any other language, I do read French & Spanish reasonably well - and many people in the US are native speakers of other languages. Sometimes foreign-language publications offer different and valuable perspectives. It would be nice to have stories grouped and accessible regardless of language.

Or, ideally, it would be nice to be able to select the languages you'd like to see stories in.
posted by gkostolny at 9:41 AM on September 23, 2002

Looking at the site now [5.47pm UK] a lot of the links will be ranked from clicks made during the European day so the site will be more Eurocentric than in, say, 8 hours time after the whole of the US has been clicking away on various news stories.

Or am I barking down the wrong drainpipe?
posted by i_cola at 9:50 AM on September 23, 2002

sorry, replace 'US' with 'The Americas'
posted by i_cola at 9:52 AM on September 23, 2002

I don't know, i_cola, I suspect that it isn't based on clicks. Google's FAQ suggests that it is more or less frequency of stories. But maybe I'm wrong, for who among us can truly peer into the mind of god?

If they used links to the stories to determine popularity, that would be very daypop of them.
posted by i blame your mother at 10:13 AM on September 23, 2002

I have been experimenting with different Start Pages lately. I was looking for a comprehensive, hopefully unbiased, up-to-the-minute news page. With Google's reputation, this has got to be the one I'll settle on...for a while anyway.
posted by jaronson at 10:20 AM on September 23, 2002

I also find the "new and improved" interface to be inferior. However, I'm betting it was needed to make people accept Google News as a "real" news site. Oh well,
posted by Ptrin at 10:43 AM on September 23, 2002

I wonder if Google's aggressive foray into the news realm has been a factor in the Yahoo-Google contract issue. The Google contract had been extended through September and here we are. Does anyone have any update on the status?
posted by madamjujujive at 10:47 AM on September 23, 2002

Me, I like Moreover. (Page takes a while to load but worth the wait.)
posted by Kneebiter at 10:59 AM on September 23, 2002

I really love Yahoo's most popular news feature. Anyone find a comparable feature on Google?
posted by internal at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2002

Kind of a drag that they removed the regular news link page (used to live under the main headers on the homepage, in the same line as "advertise with us") which was a list of links to news sites and government agencies from all over the world. I used to use that daily as a starting point to check out various news sites all in one fell swoop. Perhaps they have kept it and moved it to somewhere else less obvious, but I couldn't find it.
posted by RoseovSharon at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2002

In regards to my last post, I spoke too soon! Just found the link... it is now called "news resources" and is listed at the very bottom of the new google news page. Was more handy on the google home page but at least it's still available.
posted by RoseovSharon at 11:59 AM on September 23, 2002

One of the good things about this is that you can beat the paid archive fee at many newspapers, for 30 days at least. For example, for a Boston Globe story, just add "Globe Staff" to your search terms and you'll find all Globe stories going back a month. At the Globe's own site you have to pay for anything more than a day or two old.
posted by beagle at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2002

madamjujujive: I've already noted a couple of times in threads that Yahoo is no longer returning Google results by default. Presumably that began at the beginning of the month of September.
posted by dhartung at 3:01 PM on September 23, 2002

My complaint with Google news has been that although a particular news item will reference three independent sources, those sources generally carry the same AP or Reuters article.

There's got to be a better way to get a diversity of opinions.
posted by mert at 4:20 PM on September 23, 2002

I just wonder how long Google can serve the content before it has to rely on ads and/or subscription. Also, many of the content providers may put up roadblocks to 'own the reader'
posted by birdherder at 5:24 PM on September 23, 2002

Love it. Google is My Lord & Savior. Can you imagine NOT being able to Google anything, anytime, anyplace? Scary, huh?
posted by davidmsc at 5:50 PM on September 23, 2002

This google news search is better than Moreover, better than Yahoo. I'm amazed at how accurate it is.
posted by PoliticalJunkie at 5:58 AM on September 24, 2002

I, for one, welcome our robot news-collecting overlords.
posted by terrapin at 9:16 AM on September 24, 2002

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