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Customized without a link
March 10, 2005 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Customized Google News, launched today, requires no registration, unlike Yahoo News or MSNBC News or even clean-format My Way News. A revolution in customization without commitment, based on Google's largely no-registration strategy. One giant leap in Google commoditization. I'd link you to the Google Blog entry, but although it reached my RSS reader it disappeared from the blog.
posted by NickDouglas (40 comments total)

 
Awesome, they let you do saved searches. Here's what my layout looks like with a "metafilter" news search.
posted by mathowie at 3:02 PM on March 10, 2005


Gah... it's going to take me a while to get this juuuuust right. So much so that I'd wish there was a log-in just to preserve my settings a bit more safely.
posted by nthdegx at 3:17 PM on March 10, 2005


This is great - as mathowie says, the "Add a custom section" is brilliant.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 3:21 PM on March 10, 2005


That said...

Can I look at my customised Google News pages from different computers?

The "Share Your Edition" feature gives you a link that you can send to friends so they can see (and save) your customised Google News page on their own computers. You can send the link to yourself via email, and view and save your edition on a second computer.


From the FAQ. Another tip it gives is to use two different domains, e.g. google.com and google.co.uk, if you want to keep handy two different sets of settings. I might want engineering, music and videogame news up to the eyeballs, but do I want it eclipsing the important news of the day? No -- so this is a work around.
posted by nthdegx at 3:24 PM on March 10, 2005


This is fantastic. Buuuuuut I'm very attached to my MyWay news page, with my weather alerts and Doonesbury and suchlike. Will Google give me cartoons?
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:24 PM on March 10, 2005


There's a link generator at the bottom which gives you a url to your custom layout. Pretty cool.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:25 PM on March 10, 2005


If you're about to start playing with those, don't begin arranging your content until you are done adding your content... it jumps around when you add things at the moment.
posted by nthdegx at 3:25 PM on March 10, 2005


Here's mine.
posted by nthdegx at 3:31 PM on March 10, 2005


Great, now I can remove the Michael Jackson section.
posted by kuatto at 3:34 PM on March 10, 2005


The Custom section should support at least simple limited boolean. I wanted it to search for news related to brain and mind research i.e. "fMRI imaging (OR) psychology (OR) neuroscience (AND) study" but their criteria is for all keywords to be matched.
posted by Gyan at 3:44 PM on March 10, 2005


Media whores, rejoice.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 3:47 PM on March 10, 2005


I like GNews, but really, this is nothing special. Modules are limited to the ones there already; I can't find a way to removed modules that I don't care about; custom modules are just searches so they're difficult to configure; layout is ugly; "Top Stories" is the only thing you're allowed to see above the fold; et al. My.yahoo is way better (and who cares about a login? that ensures persistence & continuity across machines).

I can't believe this didn't receive the loathed "beta" designation somewhere--it's one Google release that deserves it.
posted by ssukotto at 3:47 PM on March 10, 2005


Hey, you can mix-and-match international editions, too. Nice.o
posted by DrJohnEvans at 3:49 PM on March 10, 2005


I am not yet sure what "nice.o" means, but I'll let you know.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 3:58 PM on March 10, 2005


I wouldn't put it past Google to match cookies from your Google News and Gmail usage. Don't take your anonymity for granted.

P.S. nice.c -> nice.o -> nice
posted by randomstriker at 4:06 PM on March 10, 2005


I can't believe this didn't receive the loathed "beta" designation somewhere--it's one Google release that deserves it.

The "BETA" designation is still there, next to the Google News logo, as it has been for the last year or whatever.

Regardless of the cookie-tracking that they may be doing, I think there's a real psychological barrier that they overcome by not requiring a login.
posted by gurple at 4:26 PM on March 10, 2005


omg ross perot lost
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:29 PM on March 10, 2005


randomstriker, I was wondering the same thing, but on a grander scale: I wonder when Google will link your Gmail usage to AdSense. It wouldn't be much of a leap for them to drop a cookie from a shared domain and start linking browser habits to Gmail accounts.
posted by Loser at 4:30 PM on March 10, 2005


I gotta agree with ssukotto and say it's pretty rough (to be fair (or ridiculous), the whole Google News site is still labeled "beta" (after 3 years?)), but I like it.

I never use any of the default sections so the ability to save custom searches as categories is nice. I got a whole Jeff Gannon section. And, surprisingly, Clinton Curtis isn't completely empty ...
posted by mrgrimm at 4:31 PM on March 10, 2005


I can't find a way to removed modules that I don't care about

For the record, doing this is pretty straight forward.
posted by nthdegx at 4:32 PM on March 10, 2005


randomstriker: let's just make nice.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 4:53 PM on March 10, 2005


Before we get carried away, let's think what this all means. The editorial community likes it not. Online Journalism Review editor Joseph Lasica recently warned that “no trend threatens the guardians of old media more than personalization.” The UK Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger has described the 'Daily Me' as "very dangerous".
posted by MrMerlot at 5:27 PM on March 10, 2005


Merlot, my first reaction is to lambast these editors for denying the customer what he wants. But when I consider that the average customer wants round-the-clock updates on Martha Stewart and sensationalized murder cases and whether Brad and Jen have broken up...I see what they mean.

I do wish I could force Google to give priority to anything from the BBC and the NYT, but then I suppose I should just read actual sites.
posted by NickDouglas at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2005


I like mine, but it's too bad that you can't modify the low-fi single column version of the page the same way. I'm still waiting for them to have a "ignore all subsequent versions of this story that are just wire-service reprints of this exact same story with a different byline" which is what cheeses me off the most about Google News, even though I generally like it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:15 PM on March 10, 2005


I want an "ignore blogs" button. Lately Google News seems to return 90% blogs. I'll take repetitive wire anyday over that.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:03 PM on March 10, 2005


Heretic!
posted by uni verse at 7:34 PM on March 10, 2005


here's mine
posted by reflection at 9:16 PM on March 10, 2005


p_g wins. That funny.
posted by bdave at 9:23 PM on March 10, 2005


No registration, ok, but it still uses cookies to keep records of your preferences, right? How is that different, really, if Google can link the cookies to an individual computer?

Please, someone, enlighten me on this.
posted by mediareport at 9:29 PM on March 10, 2005


"I gotta agree with ssukotto and say it's pretty rough (to be fair (or ridiculous), the whole Google News site is still labeled "beta" (after 3 years?)), but I like it."

Evidently, Google can't figure out how to turn a profit on Google News. There aren't any text ads on GN because placing ads alongside headlines cribbed from other sites would violate fair use. Any attempt to profit off GN pageviews would be met with demands for a cut from thousands of content providers.

So they keep it in "beta." Or at least that's what I've heard.
posted by killdevil at 9:59 PM on March 10, 2005


But when I consider that the average customer wants round-the-clock updates on Martha Stewart and sensationalized murder cases and whether Brad and Jen have broken up...I see what they mean.

I want those kind of stories out of newspapers like The Guardian and off my TV (they're very much there already)- that's why I like personalised news.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 3:29 AM on March 11, 2005


Couldn't you just not go to the entertainment sections of online sources, FieldingGoodney?

I'm still waiting for them to have a "ignore all subsequent versions of this story that are just wire-service reprints of this exact same story with a different byline"

Amen. Is it really that hard to implement a feature like that? It'd make Google News infinitely more usable. Has Google ever mentioned why they don't offer it?
posted by mediareport at 4:53 AM on March 11, 2005


I've always been frustrated by GoogleNews's grouping of Science with Technology. This sounds logical enough, but it usually results in gadget launch press releases crowding out science stories. I don't want to hear about the nth mediocre variation on the cell phone; tell me about new discoveries in human evolution, or Iceland's hydrogen project.

A nice Boolean search, as suggested above, would certainly help me get closer to that Science-without-Tech ideal.
posted by CrunchyGods at 6:31 AM on March 11, 2005


A revolution in customization without commitment

Nice to see Google following in our footsteps.

Amen. Is it really that hard to implement a feature like that? It'd make Google News infinitely more usable. Has Google ever mentioned why they don't offer it?

Because it is that hard. In fact, I'd say, short of some revolutionary breakthrough in NLP, it's pretty much impossible.
posted by jefgodesky at 6:43 AM on March 11, 2005


Because it is that hard.

Ok, but I keep thinking of this:

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the [n] already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.


Isn't there an analogous "very similar" filter you could easily use at the end of the news search process to eliminate redundant iterations of the same wire service story? Or does it have something to do with not wanting to annoy newspapers by choosing one reprinting outlet over another?
posted by mediareport at 7:01 AM on March 11, 2005


"Very similar" may be the same article, printed slightly differently--or it might not. It's all probabilistic. A deterministic algorithm would need a human's understanding of language. Frankly, it would need to do even better, since just a listing of headlines could even dupe a human.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:51 AM on March 11, 2005


No registration, ok, but it still uses cookies to keep records of your preferences, right? How is that different, really, if Google can link the cookies to an individual computer?

Well, it doesn't require you to submit personal information such as email address, phone number, etc., which is really the point of registration. But other than that, it's no different.

It's dumb you can't have custom content arranged by date. It's pretty worthless for me to have sports stories from February. Still better than nothing ... I allow a cookie for the search preferences anyway.

A deterministic algorithm would need a human's understanding of language. Frankly, it would need to do even better, since just a listing of headlines could even dupe a human.

Come on. Duped? Does Barry Bonds = Curt Schilling (search results may change later.)


It seems like all they'd have to do is match the first 30 characters or so of the main text. That's enough to qualify as a duplicate. Sure, you'd get some rogue dupes, but throw in a headline check and fait accompli.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2005


d'oh. What I meant.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:05 AM on March 11, 2005


"Very similar" may be the same article, printed slightly differently--or it might not

Feh. There is software for detecting plagarism that is quite capable of determining how similar stories are. Or, for that matter, something like the wiki version comparison software could be modified to do such calculations.

I think the more challenging aspect is that if every new story has to be compared against N (continually increasing) stories that have already been displayed, then a lot of computer cycles get used up in doing the comparisons. But the comparisons themselves are not hard.
posted by WestCoaster at 10:12 AM on March 11, 2005


right, WestCoaster. it's more back-end trouble than it's worth, especially if what killdevil says is true (and I believe it): ain't no money in news.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2005


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