. . . Thursday March 10, 2005

Going to the Source

Google News has added some customization features. The biggest change seems to be the ability to merge one’s news alerts into the overall news environment. For example, you can now create a search for a specific news term and add the results of that search to your customized news page.

I’ve been a big fan of being able to collect and sift news by keyword for a long time. If you have high cholesterol, why not watch 1000′s of news sources for that word? Or perhaps you, like me, will be adding your own name and/or sites to your news watch list.

But I’d like to see more from Google News (to me, their most disappointing tab). First, why not include blog content in the mix? So far, Google will only include those blogs that have an editor (who can’t be the writer) in their list of news sources. Why not let the Googler decide whether or not he/she wants blog postings to be included in their news diets?

Want to separate blogs from other branded news sources? Fine. But why not make the content available?

And while I like the idea of consuming news by topic, why not let me decide if I want to also consume news by source? In other words, why not let me include RSS feeds on my Google News page? I know this moves the Google News section a step away from the company’s core mission of focusing on search, but it seems like an overwhelming shortcoming to offer a customized news site without letting people customize it the way they want (and the way they already can elsewhere).

I have a similar take when it comes to some of the Gmail features. On the sign-up page you are told: Search, don’t sort. It’s great that Google enables quick and effective searching of email. But why not let me sort too. Why not let me decide if I want to thread or unthread messages, etc?

Maybe Google is just honing their own unique spin on RSS and such features will be available soon. But until they arrive, Google News will fall short of expectations.

Concentration is important!