Providing the information you didn’t know you wanted — Google CEO Eric Schmidt on newspapers, monetisation and the semantic web

Snippets from a Wall Street Journal interview with Schmidt:

Says Mr. Schmidt, a generation of powerful handheld devices is just around the corner that will be adept at surprising you with information that you didn’t know you wanted to know. “The thing that makes newspapers so fundamentally fascinating—that serendipity—can be calculated now. We can actually produce it electronically,” Mr. Schmidt says.[…]

On one thing, however, Google is willing to bet: “The only way the problem [of insufficient revenue for news gathering] is going to be solved is by increasing monetization, and the only way I know of to increase monetization is through targeted ads. That’s our business.”[…]

“As you go from the search box [to the next phase of Google], you really want to go from syntax to semantics, from what you typed to what you meant. And that’s basically the role of [Artificial Intelligence]. I think we will be the world leader in that for a long time.”

Read more here [link]

Three things for newspapers to work on, suggests Google boss Eric Schmidt

From his Q&A with The Times:

"Personalize the news – at its best, the on-line version of a newspaper should learn from the information I'm giving it – what I've read, who I am and what I like – to automatically send me stories and photos that will interest me.

Make the content available anywhere – as more "smart" or web-enabled phones hit the market there will be even greater access to what can be considered mobile reading platforms. […]

Embrace journalism as a two-way conversation – the advent of real-time reporting […] means micro-blogging and citizen journalism are here to stay. This phenomenon, combined with the potential benefits to the reader of knowing what their friends or others are reading or saying about events, means newspapers now have a chance to be a 21st century community forum. The more this dialog among and between the newspaper and its readers develops, the greater the opportunity newspapers will have to make money from their content."

Read more here [link]

Cervical cancer vaccine, online news, Google and SEO

SEO expert Malcolm Coles kicked off an interesting experiment yesterday, to shift the emphasis in Google’s search results away from “negative and inaccurate information” (eg some news stories) linking a girl’s death to the cervical cancer vaccine and towards NHS pages about the vaccine.

More by Malcolm here about the tendency of some news stories to suggest (or make) a connection between the death and the vaccine.

He has been encouraging bloggers and others to publish web links, with relevant linked text, to influence Google’s search results, such as cervical cancer jab, cervical cancer vaccine, and cervical cancer vaccine Q&A.

So far, the NHS seems to have bought ‘sponsored links’ against some search key words, but I don’t see any of the NHS sites in the first page of Google’s search results for “cervical cancer jab”, which continues to be dominated by news stories.

French town of Eu seeks search engine optimisation (SEO)?

A great story explains the problem:

Anybody entering the word “Eu” in a search engine is likely to get a number of results, but most will be a reference to the past participle of the French verb avoir (to have), not to the pretty market town in Normandy.

The search also brings up pages related to the European Union.

Accordingly, the small town, which boasts a number of attractions, including an impressive château and gardens, is being bypassed.

It goes on to quote the mayor, who advocates changing the town’s name rather than paying search engines such as Google to boost its ranking. SEO probably wouldn’t work just for “Eu” — but “town of Eu” now comes up trumps. Helped, no doubt, by the story in the Telegraph (and elsewhere).

Google abandons Print Ads newspaper ad sales service after disappointing results | Media | guardian.co.uk

"The Print Ads scheme let advertisers buy space in newspapers and magazines in the same way that Google auctions space through its other services: advertisers picked their ideal spot then submitted bids for space in the publications they had been matched with.

More than 800 publications in the US signed up to the scheme, including The New York Times, the Tribune company, Gannett and the Washington Post.[…]

But it never delivered the level of returns required – particularly for cash-strapped newspapers which had lost vast amounts of classified advertising to websites such as Craigslist and Google itself."

Read more here [link]

ITN tailors news to user location, using Google Maps

As described by Keir Clarke on the Google Maps Mania blog:
"Independent Television News have created a news map that delivers news based on the user's location. The map uses the Google Gears Geolocation API to determine the user's location and then serves up news for that region.

It is possible to change the location manually to retrieve news from other parts of the world. It is also possible to filter the results to read news from the last week, the last fortnight, three weeks or the last month. The map also has the option to view the news in the Google Earth browser plug-in."

Read more here [link]

‘Google will not replace shoe leather’

Veteran investigative reporter Andrew Jennings interviewed:
“Google has its uses. But let’s get serious. It is a fine research tool, but it doesn’t do what a journalist is supposed to do… Shoe leather is cheap. That’s how I get the story. If you walk down any suburban street, there is a story behind every door. There are people who work in factories, good people, that bad things happened to, and they are waiting for a knock on the door… […]
Many journalists think you get it from the Presidents or press releases. You get it from the janitor, the concierge, the guy who is a driver to Mr. Enron. It’s ordinary people who want to talk about it because they have to earn a living, but it’s shoe leather. Google can help, but you have to go out to get the story, and get people to trust you. Whether it is in any type of journalism: economy, sports, etc, people have stories. You have to persuade them.”

Read more here [link]

Echo-bloggers and blog search: does every linked or cited article count?

One article or many? Scope for some social network analysis on Google’s new blog search, suggests edublogger Stephen Downes, using an example from online journalism to make his point:

[But] here’s where the network analysis comes in – if the WSJ releases an opinion piece, and it is dutifully cited by the same 79 blogs that cite all such pieces of that political bent, should that really count as ’79 results’? Or is it just one opinion – the WSJ’s – repeated by echo-bloggers 79 times?

And then what does that mean for ranking, linking, position in other search engines’ results etc…?

In response to a comment, Downes explains what he envisages:

Google groups blogs by topic; take the groups so grouped and see how they link to each other. Compare linkages between the same blogs over different topics.

Any takers?

Are College Students Techno Idiots? :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, Views and Jobs

Large-scale study suggests poor information literacy skills, including evaluating websites and searching online effectively: "For the study, information was gathered from over 6,300 students found at 63 universities, colleges, community colleges, and high schools (seniors). Each institution selected participants to take an information and communication technology literacy assessment. Because the institutions did not make random selections , caution should be taken when evaluating the results. The challenge was to see if students could identify trustworthy information, manage that information, and communicate it effectively. The results do not inspire confidence. […]Results also show that students might even lack the basics on a search engine like Google. When asked to narrow a search that was too broad, only 35 percent of students selected the correct revision. Further, 80 percent of students put irrelevant points into a slide program designed to persuade an audience."

Read more here [link]