search engine content aggregator online office application company cell-phone OS manufacturer Supreme Ruler of the Interwebs, has done the unthinkable—it’s relying on human beings to help edit its news.
This is remarkable, considering that when Google began offering news as one of its many services about ten years ago, it made great hoopla over the fact that no actual humans were involved in the assembling of the news on google.com. The company that invented the world’s leading Internet search algorithm would rely on news aggregation algorithms to determine what was newsworthy.
But now, Google will partner with editors from leading news providers such as the New York Times, LA Times and Reuters to select “Editor’s Picks” that will appear in Google news.
This turnabout is especially important for several reasons. Occasionally, Google (and Yahoo, and others) will grab onto off-the-wall stories from Russian tabloids detailing a Siberian farmer’s encounter with space aliens, or something equally bizarre that should have never made it past the computer news selector. Slightly less annoying is the search engines picking up a story in a foreign English-language newspaper (such as Xinhua) that was probably told just as well (and without government censorship) in the Washington Post.
Lastly, the whole notion of “the more news, the better” that’s taken over the media ever since the advent of 24-hour cable news and the global spread of the Internet has not been healthy for us humans. Rather than news being carefully filtered by knowledgeable editors, it’s simply tossed out to the masses like chum over the side of a fishing boat.
Fox News says “We report, you decide,” but sometimes we need news editors to decide what’s news and what’s not, or what’s opinion and what’s fact. In these days of mass hysterias, Wall Street panics, left vs. right and a general overload of people telling us what to do and how to think, we could use a little less news. Or barring that, we could use more credible news.
So, Kudos to Google—and here’s to their experiment in having actual people write the news.