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September 15, 2009 1:54 AM   Subscribe

Google Fast Flip: Newspaper Stand 2.0
posted by fatllama (34 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
ePlC
posted by Rhaomi at 2:20 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I for one was impressed with this. While it maybe derivative Google does well at extending such things pretty well. Mind you, I am one who thinks Google is the best thing to happen to the Internet, so I am always open to their next new thing.
posted by vac2003 at 2:47 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Google are great company, and using their services makes organising my life on the Internet that much easier. If this service is anything like the other Google services I'm sure you'll like it too.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:59 AM on September 15, 2009


I like it. But it worries me that the pages I'm looking at aren't getting the pageviews. It also worried me that when I went to sign in, it didn't already have me logged in or know my password, and: "Google is not affiliated with the contents of Fast Flip or its owners. If you sign in, Google will share your email address with Fast Flip, but not your password or any other personal information."

Otherwise, it's cool.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:25 AM on September 15, 2009


But it worries me that the pages I'm looking at aren't getting the pageviews.

Dumb question: Why wouldn't they get the pageviews? Wouldn't Google's act of fetching the data required to display what they display, trigger the pageview?
posted by jbickers at 4:57 AM on September 15, 2009


Don't know the answer to this, but Fast Flip doesn't say, either. But I could imagine it working like this: Fast Flip fetches the data once, and then serves it up to all of us a couple of hundred times.

Since it's apparently opt-in, I'm guessing that these newspapers have agreed to the practice: either they've got a revenue sharing deal with Fast Flip or they're hoping to draw additional traffic as people clickthrough to the site itself. In this, it's just like a newstand, and perhaps substantially better than a traditional rss feed.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:02 AM on September 15, 2009


I can't see myself ever using this. I end up looking at the captions to find interesting stuff rather than the screenshots, and it's frustrating that you need to go to the "real" article after you read a couple of paragraphs.

Maybe it would work better if web pages had less pointless clutter on them. Look at how much of the screenshot is used by mastheads and sidebars.
posted by smackfu at 5:59 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read a lot of news and don't see a benefit to this at all. I can go to FastFlip, scroll down to Sources, click the NYT and scroll through tiny thumbnails of the articles or even get them all on one haphazardly organized, mostly unreadable page, or I can visit www.nytimes.com and scan the home page in readable format, then click directly on any section of the paper I'm interested in. One of these things is a far better news experience than the other.

Seems to me that Google's rationale for doing this - "Browsing news on the Web is much slower than it is in print...When it is fast, people will look at more news and more ads, and that’s something that publishers want to see" - is really weak sauce. Which makes this look like yet another Google invention that not a helluva lot of folks were really asking for but which helps keep Google's name in the press as an "INNOVATOR!" and its stock price absurdly high.
posted by mediareport at 6:04 AM on September 15, 2009


I read a lot of news and don't see a benefit to this at all.

I see an incredible benefit to this. Not only do you see what other people are reading, you see what other people are seeing. This preserves a context that is lost on Google News. Just scanning through the most-viewed link, you realize how important outlets like Marie Claire and Redbook are. I didn't even know Redbook was still around.

There is tremendous value in knowing what you fellow citizens/humans are reading, even if you yourself would never read it.

I want to see this on amazon and google books for books.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:16 AM on September 15, 2009


Parsing help: "Google is not affiliated with the contents of Fast Flip or its owners." At first I read that as: "Google is not affiliated with the owners of the content on Fast Flip," which is obvious, because the content is coming from the Christian Science Monitor or wherever. But it looks like what they mean is: "Google is not affiliated with Fast Flip or the owners of the web content." Otherwise, why would Google share my email with Fast Flip? If it's a part of Google, that'd be like saying, "Google will share your email with Google." It sounds like Fast Flip is a separate company.

What's the deal with Google hosting non-Google services on Google Labs?
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:29 AM on September 15, 2009


Dumb question: Why wouldn't they get the pageviews? Wouldn't Google's act of fetching the data required to display what they display, trigger the pageview?

It's showing cached screenshots Like this one. Pretty unusual setup, but it loads pretty quickly.
posted by Paris Hilton at 6:29 AM on September 15, 2009


Seems to me that Google's rationale for doing this - "Browsing news on the Web is much slower than it is in print...When it is fast, people will look at more news and more ads, and that’s something that publishers want to see" - is really weak sauce. Which makes this look like yet another Google invention that not a helluva lot of folks were really asking for but which helps keep Google's name in the press as an "INNOVATOR!" and its stock price absurdly high.

Well, this is a google labs thing. I personally don't like the interface too much. Seems like they're trying to hard to keep the 'google style' which I think is incredibly bland.

But, Google had made a point about how loading time really impacts how much people interact with a web page. This really lowers loading time (at least for people on broadband who can download all these PNGs)

Anyway, it's an experiment. It's not a product. I presume if it's popular it will be refined a lot more. And also, the more interesting thing is talk about Google implementing a micro payment system for these guys, which they've been begging for.
posted by Paris Hilton at 6:37 AM on September 15, 2009


--yet another Google invention--

Sure, sure, ad views are going to be their bottom line, but I don't think that requirement overly hampers their willingness to try out new - sometimes useful/excellent - stuff; and, as you say, it cements their innovator label. I think that's a good thing for all of us really.

Will this particular news toy stick or be popular or useful? I don't know, nor frankly do I care too much. I don't think I'll bother with it again, but you never know. It's the same with NYT's article skimmer. I'm happy to see the tools/innovations/attempts, even if I don't personally want to use them.
Oh, google does give a cut of the revenue to the source sites for page flip.
posted by peacay at 7:01 AM on September 15, 2009


If it's a part of Google, that'd be like saying, "Google will share your email with Google." It sounds like Fast Flip is a separate company.

From what I can tell, it's hosted on the app engine infrastructure, so that's a generic "give this application access to your google account" message. It does look confusing, indeed.
posted by effbot at 7:13 AM on September 15, 2009


This might be a fun application but I can't see any huge need for it in my life.

I listen to (UK) Radio 4 every day and it usually gives me all the headlines and more news than I realistically need in 20 mins, and no text!

Plus on weekends someone is paid to read the papers and mention any top stories on air ;)

I haven't read a front page let alone a whole paper in years.
posted by KMH at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2009


I can go to FastFlip, scroll down to Sources, click the NYT and scroll through tiny thumbnails of the articles or even get them all on one haphazardly organized, mostly unreadable page, or I can visit nytimes.com and scan the home page in readable format, then click directly on any section of the paper I'm interested in.

The tiny thumbnails are only useful to read the headlines or scan the pictures but it seems faster to type source:"times" headlines and scroll through cached 30-150Kbyte PNG/JPGs images than to visit the 1Mbyte nytimes.com homepage and open the headlines in separate tabs (600Kbyte/page). No need for bugmenot on Fast Flip either.

One of these things is a far better news experience than the other.
posted by Akeem at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2009


Wait, has anyone noticed how incredibly fast this is? I agree that as-is the product is not much, but this is really, really cool. Right now I have 3 tabs that open to daily blogs I read, which is nice, but they're little more than indexes to the actual content with some narrative and perhaps commentary (Andrew Sullivan is a good example of this). Google seems to be rendering the page as a JPEG and serving them up really quickly. If I could login to this in the morning and see the second-order pages rendered, along with having the blog content on the same page ... it would be very, very nice indeed.
posted by geoff. at 7:45 AM on September 15, 2009


I know it's not the same thing, but Newseum deserves a mention here.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:52 AM on September 15, 2009


Notice that Google is blocking ads on the pages they fetch.
posted by smackfu at 7:53 AM on September 15, 2009


A front pages post

No-one else has said it yet, so it looks like it falls to me to say... awesome post title fatllama.
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 8:10 AM on September 15, 2009


I like this concept, but without some more content driving where I click next, it's just a bunch of squares representing different magazines/papers. Maybe that's the point, but the internet has trained me to expect more with less clicking.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:29 AM on September 15, 2009


smackfu : Maybe it would work better if web pages had less pointless clutter on them. Look at how much of the screenshot is used by mastheads and sidebars.

I was completely unaware of this until I got an Asus EEE earlier this year. Because the screen is as small as it is, I've noticed that I now have to thwack the spacebar a couple of times just to get to the content on a lot of pages.

FastFlip really demonstrates how prevalent this is.

It's a neat idea, but one I probably won't use all that much.
posted by quin at 8:54 AM on September 15, 2009


A solution in search of a problem.
posted by empath at 9:19 AM on September 15, 2009


The publications included get a revenue share.
posted by beagle at 9:36 AM on September 15, 2009


Google are reportedly pitching some sort of iTunes of old media to the old media conglomerates these days, where you could either buy an entire magazine or newspaper or an individual article for a small fee, obliterating the need to buy a paper edition at a news stand. Maybe this is some kind of preview, trying to get eyeballs first, and a business model later (something that Google knows, after all).

I would personally welcome the possibility to read a nicely laid out magazine page on my computer screen, without blinking banners, pop ups and video sidebars all trying to lure my attention away from what I'm trying to read. It would make "deep" reading possible, which is the kind of emotional gratification that people expect from a magazine. With more and more people getting large screens (24 inch and more), this could very well be a succesful bid. Also, it would in time become a kick ass one stop archive (much like Google Books?).

Of course, if this is implemented, you'll see much hand wringing from magazine editors and writers, who will clamor that from now on, a magazine will be merely a collection of attention grabbing articles, and that Google killed the magazine just like iTunes killed the cd. Nobody does a wake of the dearly departed dead tree media better than the dead tree media, after all.

It will also serve as a sobering lesson for the techno-optimists who thought that information wanted to be free: the internet did not allow a thousand self publishing authors and artists to bloom. Rather, it concentrated the power of a few music moguls in the hands of one music mogul (the iTunes store), and apparently it might end up concentrating the power of a few media moguls in the hands of one media mogul (Google). Okay, and Perez Hilton.
posted by NekulturnY at 10:00 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find that MetaFilter, 3QuarksDaily, and Arts and Letters Daily do the right kind of filtering out of trivia for me. FastFlip does none.
posted by RichardS at 10:03 AM on September 15, 2009


I think this says more about the current state of web design and web browser software than anything else. Think about it: the putrid, fetid state of "modern" web design -- wherein loading a typical large site's entry page can require waiting for probably a dozen stylesheets, several dozen various javascript fragments (including whole copies of several disparate JS frameworks since various modules require different frameworks), tracking code from several metrics services, flash objects for advertisements from multiple ad partners, "related content" json callbacks, multiple iframes -- has become so pathetically slow that a company that simply offers pre-rendered static screenshots of popular sites could actually attract attention and praise.

Does anyone else not remember a time when sites were simple enough and not clogged down with enough javascript to clog a kitchen sink that the idea of taking a screenshot and serving that instead of the actual site would have seemed laughable? It's just pathetic that it has come to this, after so many years of hardware getting faster and memory becoming so plentiful.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:23 AM on September 15, 2009


It's just pathetic that it has come to this, after so many years of hardware getting faster and memory becoming so plentiful.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:23 PM on September 15


But I need a separate stylesheet for kerning! You know, kerning? People don't want to read a site where the 't' and the 'h' are 0.02 mm too far apart. News sites are about usability, not content.

And don't forget the em's! Oh my God I almost forgot the em's! Line spacing is not one-and-a-half-spaced, it's 1.3 space! We don't want to raise the ire of Jeff Zeldman! There would have been ire! They warned us about ire at Parsons but I never though it would happen to me!!!

More CSS, more javascript! What, we're not HTML 5 compliant?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

...dies
posted by Pastabagel at 10:56 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


has become so pathetically slow that a company that simply offers pre-rendered static screenshots of popular sites could actually attract attention and praise.

Is that really the goal of this? To fix slow sites? I don't really notice any of the news sites being slow. Metafilter has all the sins you listed, and we managed to deal with it.
posted by smackfu at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2009


Does anyone else not remember a time when sites were simple enough and not clogged down with enough javascript to clog a kitchen sink that the idea of taking a screenshot and serving that instead of the actual site would have seemed laughable?

When was this? I was there when the web was just a bloated implementation of Gopher, and I definitely remember impatiently staring at the Mosaic progress indicator, waiting for the entire page to download so the browser could start rendering it. And we had a 64 KB line when most people were still at 14.4. Web developers have always pushed the limits.

"One of our primary design objectives was to optimize performance using 14.4 KB modems, so real people can access the Internet over standard phone lines." -- Netscape 1.0 announcement.
posted by effbot at 12:13 PM on September 15, 2009


They invented interlaced gifs just so that people would be able to get the idea of an image before it finished downloading.
posted by smackfu at 12:56 PM on September 15, 2009


I'm missing the part where they have NPR listed on this... because .... I can't find my NPR....
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:53 PM on September 15, 2009


Not only do you see what other people are reading

*laughs*

Sorry, but that really doesn't affect what I'm interested in reading in my daily newspaper.

it seems faster to type source:"times" headlines and scroll through cached 30-150Kbyte PNG/JPGs images than to visit the 1Mbyte nytimes.com homepage and open the headlines in separate tabs (600Kbyte/page).

*laughs*

Really? Those pages open too goshdarn slowly for you? Come on. empath nailed it: "A solution in search of a problem." Or, "Google hyping yet another GREAT NEW SERVICE no one was asking for."
posted by mediareport at 5:31 PM on September 15, 2009


It's only after you scroll through pages this fast that the normal 1 or 2 sec load times and tab-switching become noticeable and annoying.

Fast Flip seems like the perfect solution for casual reading up on a recent topic.
It complements an RSS reader for those using one and has a lower threshold for those who aren't using RSS.
It could also be a better and faster interface for portable devices and netbooks switched to portrait layout (ctrl-alt-leftarrow).
posted by Akeem at 3:36 AM on September 16, 2009


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