Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Google News Image Version

Google News is available in a new image version. To see it, go to the normal Google News and click the “image version” link to the left side. You will now see relevant news images along with a small subtitle. Hovering over an image will dynamically move the right-hand news description into the top position, and clicking on it will forward you to the news report. The new image grid will not just work for the frontpage, but also for any search query that yields News results.

This is an interesting new visual window to Google News. It feels a bit more like zapping news channels than with the old, more text-oriented Google News frontpage, and Daniel Garcia in the forum wonders if these are the first steps towards a Google News video news version.

However, as all imagery is picked algorithmically & automatically – or so we have reason to assume, as Google claims “Google News has no human editors selecting stories or deciding which ones deserve top placement” (they only decide which publications to include) – the images are not always directly conveying any meaning. Sometimes, the thumbnail will just be a generic stock photo, like a hand on a keyboard, with little relation to a specific story. Additionally, the photos are cropped where necessary to fit into the square size, and this removes context. And the subtitle for many stories is much, much too short to make any sense of it. Here are two examples of what I would consider sub-optimal image selections (not to say this can be easily prevented algorithmically-- and not to say that an 80% well-working tool isn’t useful!):

The headline of this is too short to make sense (beyond the mere “iPhone” keyword). The image is too small to read what’s on the sign behind the man, which you will only see when you click-through to the story (it contains the words “the wait is almost over ... iPhone ... Friday, June 29”).

What are you going to make of a cut-off head and the headline “Google escalate..."? Without reading the full headline, this image won’t do its job in giving you a first glimpse of the news.


Ongoing comments

[Thanks TomHTML!]


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