Innovation Focus: Krishna Bharat, creator of Google News
ATLANTA – I’m attending the Symposium on Computation & Journalism at Georgia Tech, with a capacity crowd of 230 people focused on the intersection of journalism and computer science.
Krishna Bharat, principal scientist at Google and creator of Google News, was a keynote speaker Friday. Some of the interesting points I heard:
Google doesn’t want to own content, it wants to be the intermediary that brings people to content.
Early on, Google realized that portals wanted to keep people on their sites as long as possible. But the company, at the highest levels, believed that “trapping” people on a site is shortsighted.
Bharat is a computer scientist, but he didn’t talk just about engineering. “Many perspectives, providing contrasting viewpoints, creates an appetite for news and makes you want to read more,” said Bharat. “Perspectives educate, knowing what others believe matters.”
News is real time and fragmented and bringing it all together is hard to do. Google’s process:
Crawl (gather news); cluster (group articles by story) rank (determine how important the story is by aggregate editorial interest). Within stories, story importance in a given edition is based on editorial interest, local relevance and story freshness. Articles are ranked by originality, freshness, quality of source and localness of source.
Google achieves scalability by creating one algorithm and applying it to multiple editions.
Integrating Google News in universal search was very important for Google News, because many people don’t think of going to Google for news. (This is smart, and is similar to how RealNetworks leverages its high traffic Real.com property to drive users to new services.)
Google recently introduced new features: local news; and a Facebook app to browse news while within Facebook and allowing users to track top stories and share them with friends.
Asked what news publishers can do to get ranked by Google News, Bharat said: try to be original, too much reporting is rehashing. The Internet enables niches. Find topics that are underserved.
Bharat says one thing he has learned about the process of innovation during his time at Google: “innovation happens when you put people together.”
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What do YOU think about Google News? Post your ideas in the comments section.