Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Newsmap makes Google News a lovely headline cloud

After 9/11 Google turned its home page into a sort of a portal with information about the disaster, how to donate relief, etc. I chronicled the evolution of their home page in an article for First Monday in October 2001, The Effects of September 11 on the Leading Search Engine. I predicted that Google would get into the news business, but they'd do it with robotic crawlers and indexers, not human editors.

Sure enough, in April 2002, Google News was released in beta. And sure enough it chose categories and headlines based on robotic algorithms. Most of the time the robot does remarkably well, but sometimes it makes some pretty funny gaffes.

Since that t
ime the Google News interface and presentation have changed very little. For instance:

Now comes a critter called Newsmap, which transforms us from the boring text-only Google News to a cloud map of stories with headlines in proportion to apparent importance of each story. Check it out (click the image to see it full size):

A very cool graphical view. Wonder if Google will send a cease-and-desist letter, or hire the clever folks who devised this clever presentation?

Take a quick peek in case Googleshysters make it go away: