As many of you know, Google News has been around for 8 years now and it hasn’t changed a bit—- until now. Check out this revamped facet of the Google Empire here, if you haven’t already: http://news.google.com/nwshp?hl=en&tab=wn. While some people may be reluctant to embrace a new format after a long love affair with their favorite comprehensive news feeder, you should rest assured that the good folks at Google would never steer you wrong. These updates are all designed to make for a more user friendly viewing experience, which is always a positive thing.
Some users found the old Google News homepage a bit, shall we say, cluttered. The information was presented in various sections that were randomly scattered across a single page. Basically, it seemed like their layout had a bad case of A.D.D. Now the layout consists of a mere two sections: one for top news headlines and the other for personalized topics of your choosing. When you log in for the first time, you will receive a prompt asking you to rate your level of interest on a variety of familiar subject areas including world events, entertainment, science and technology, sports, health, business, and U.S. news. Google then creates a homepage that is dedicated to your happiness alone. So if you are obsessed with basketball but could care less about the state of the stock market, you won’t have to waste any time trying to search for the stuff you actually want to see.
A lot of time and thought went into creating this design, although it was undoubtedly inspired by recent social networking trends. Nevertheless, Google News has always been a software based system, which is why it used to be a little slow at picking up breaking stories. Its content was generated by the amount of coverage of topic received, not by relevance or order of occurrence. While the site will continue running on software, its headlines will be driven by more than just extensive media exposure. Of course, you will still be able to find out what everyone else is talking about by glancing at the text under the “Top Stories” heading in the upper left hand side of your screen. Fast flip, a popular feature that allows viewers to catch a glimpse of highlighted articles from other well known news outlets, remains accessible from the homepage, too. You will find it towards the bottom of the column on the right hand side of your screen.
Although the personalization features are getting mixed reviews, everyone seems happy about the enhanced sharing mechanisms. The old format only permitted you to pass along a story via e-mail; now you have the option of spreading the word through Facebook, Google Buzz, and Twitter. You can access these sharing functions from a drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of every story’s text box. Now I’m not a huge fan of trending or customized subject matter, but Google News did come up with something I’m pretty stoked about. In the same drop down menu you use to post stories on Twitter, you’ll find a way to filter out stuff from sources you don’t like. For a political junkie like me, this is a real godsend. The last thing I want to see on my homepage is a ton of stories from a news organization whose ideology makes me want to projectile vomit. Don’t get me wrong: It’s definitely a good idea to read things you don’t agree with in order to gain a better understanding of complex issues and divergent perspectives. But when I want to expose myself to a variety of viewpoints for enrichment purposes, I’ll do so on my own time, thanks. I don’t think I’m alone in using Google News solely to get a quick run down of the day’s headlines…… or am I?