By Michael Gray
For a moment, I’d like you to think back to high school. Remember how there was always that one kid who would raise their hand and ask the question “Will that be on the test?” Now, thanks to Personalized Google News, we have the answer.
Last week Google announced they will be bringing personalization to Google news. I have no love of Google’s personalized search, but I understand that Google thinks it gives them a POD (see point of differentiation). The problem with this personalization is that if you limit your news only to sources you agree with, you’re missing the whole picture. Like that annoying kid in high school, you’re so focused on passing the test and getting a good grade that you’re missing the bigger picture and the opportunity to think and learn.
Since I got the iPad, one of the things I’ve started doing again is reading the news via newspaper apps. They expose me to ideas and concepts that I wouldn’t see if I read only SEO blogs and forums. Hopefully they make me a more educated and well rounded person, but I know they allow me to be more creative: I take things I read and use them as starting points for the projects I am working on. For example, this article about the Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town car being discontinued gave me the inspiration to write a social article about the Prius and other “green” cars becoming taxis for an automotive website I work on. If Google News was LIMITING the news sources I read, I never would have seen that article or had that idea.
I know that the culture of Google is one populated by people who believe in the singularity of life. This belief in the singularity permeates everything they do, how they approach their problems, and life in general. It’s why they are willing to sacrifice everyone without a second thought to achieve that singularity with an almost religious zeal. This difference in beliefs was accentuated when I read Clay Shirky’s book Cognitive Surplus (see Book Review – Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus) and Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not a Gadget (You Are Not a Gadget Book Review) at the same time. I think it’s important for people to read and understand as many sides as possible of an issue. By limiting your input, you limit your perspective and your ability to better understand an issue. At the end of the day, you end up limiting yourself.
Using Google’s personalized news may give you more of what you want, but does it give you more of what you need? It’s funny that a company that has so many smart people and probably the largest concentration of PhDs in the world can’t see that the McStandardization of what readers are exposed to on a daily basis is not a good thing.