Google Unveils Timeline Of Articles

Appeared in MediaPost, April 7, 2009, quoting Aaron Goldman:

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Google News Timeline of Articles Google quietly began publishing Friday a graph identifying clusters of news stories, sources, and the time each article published in Google News. The "timeline of articles" is accessible through the link that aggregates all articles on a specific topic via any browser such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

The graph aims to give Google News users a better sense of how stories on specific topics unfold. It also fulfills the search engine's mission to give people access to more news from a variety of perspectives, according to a Google spokeswoman. "It exposes readers to viewpoints they might not have seen," she said. "It also brings publishers readers they might not have had before."

While it's easy for humans to read two news articles and decided whether they are related, it's more difficult for computer algorithms to accomplish the same task at the scale Google News operates. Determining if two articles with the word "Paris" are similar means differentiating between Paris, France; Paris Hilton; and Paris, Texas, she said.

The timeline of articles feature harkens back to the birth of Google News when Principal Google Scientist Krishna Bharat created the search engine in 2001. He couldn't find clusters of information after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. The engine, which indexes about 4,500 news sites worldwide, launched in 2002.

Aaron Goldman, consultant at Resolution Media, called the product feature "cool" because it provides a window into trending news topics. "I don't see any direct application for advertisers, so I wonder if it has something to do with Google's ongoing battle with news publications who get upset over Google profiting from their copyrighted content," he said. "By showing the timeline, it turns Google News into more of a news aggregation destination rather than a straight repository of snippets of other people's content."


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