a letter to google, and their response

From: "Aziz H. Poonawalla"
To: news-feedback@google.com
Subject: web log indexing akin to your news service
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 09:31:39 -0500


I am a longtime user of Google, from the very beginning, and I must congratulate you on how you have extended Google's services over the years. I will never use another search engine.

Your news service is brilliant, but it made me wish for another similar feature aimed at weblogs (and tied into the news service also).

What would be wonderful is if you could do almost exactly the same thing you do for news feeds, but using RSS feeds from weblogs. Currently there are hundreds of thousands of weblogs run on Blogger Pro, on Radio Userland, and on MovableType, all of which support XML syndication. It should be easy for your team to build up a comprehensive list of weblogs by looking at the recently updated list at weblogs.com and blogs.salon.com, as well as
blog.gs. Blogs with XML feeds could be flagged and used as information feeds into the same algorithms you use to construct Google News.

With that data, I propose you do two things:

1. create a weblog-centric normal Google search
2. link weblogs to the news.google service so that if a number of weblogs link to a given story, users of Google News can immediately find those bloggers commentary.

Weblogs are posing a significant challenge to the normal media and often contain intense, detailed discussion and analysis of current events as well as general debates on politics, religion, the economy, and foreign policy. All of these diverse threads of opijion and analysis could thus be indexed and accessible via the Google News interface.

Point 1 above would be very useful from an archive perspective - ten years from now, if someone wants to research the Bali terrorist bombing, it would be extremely useful to have a weblog-centric search and get the full window into the diverse discussions it has sparked. Point 2 would provide real-time analysis on a level well beyond what the mainstream news organizations can provide.

Both would immensely enhance Google News and make the depth of the content an order of magnitude richer. I sincerely hope that this idea is not only feasible but that you also find it worth pursuing.

Aziz Poonawalla

Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 13:29:43 -0700
From: news-feedback@google.com
To: "Aziz H. Poonawalla"
Subject: Re: web log indexing akin to your news service [#1014151]

Dear Aziz,

Thanks for your helpful email about Google News. We're considering a number of improvements based on feedback from our users, and we'll be certain to pass your thoughts on to our engineers. Given that we're still fine-tuning this service, it's too early for us to know which of the many great ideas we've received will be implemented. Thanks again for taking the time to write us and please visit Google News in the coming weeks to see our additions and improvements.

For the latest on Google News and other Google innovations, you may want to sign up for our Google Friends newsletter at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/google-friends/

The Google Team

ok, so it wasn't a substantive reply. But I can always hope ...

UPDATE: by way of Zizka, Nathan Newman has a related idea:

The interesting challenge for us in the progressive blogosphere is whether we can figure out a format to combine the best of our posts into a single structure that casual web browsers could access like a magazine. What would be needed is some kind of peer review to move the best posts from individual sites into a collective web effort, categorized by issue area, and posted in a user-friendly form. There are some collective blogs out there, but what is needed is a more serious editing function and user-friendly formatting to make it easy to access. If we could even do with progressive blog posting what Google News has done with mainstream papers, it would make web writing far more accessible.

In fact this is similar to an idea I had recently, to set up a Movable Type blog that would be called the Progressive Archive (or, "ProgLog" for short) that consists solely of archives from major liberal bloggers like Atrios, Hesiod, and Demosthenes. It would be a simple matter to import their entire archives into the MT archive, and thus have the full power of MT's search and browse and category features available. I myself have wasted hours trying to dig through Eschaton for a post I remembered reading ages back that would have been useful to link to for a post I was writing, but usually the task is just too labor-intensive. I emailed those three to ask their permission but not much response yet, certainly not teh permission that would be necessary to even try out a prototype. But the idea remains, and it's good to know I'm not the only one who is thinkig about the utility that such an archive would have.

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