If you can't get enough news, Google is about to feed your habit by making the past searchable. On Monday, the search giant announced it will work with more newspapers to "bring history online" by digitizing news articles. The number of newspapers with which it will partner now numbers about 100.
Punit Soni, Google product manager, wrote on The Official Google Blog that "it's our goal to help readers find" articles that have run in newspapers around the world, "from the smallest local weekly paper to the largest national daily."
Google described the initiative as "branching into a new form of content." The expansion was announced at the TechCrunch50 Conference in San Francisco.
Related To Google Books Effort
Soni wrote that the initiative will "make more old newspapers accessible and searchable" by digitizing millions of pages from the newspapers' archives. As an example, he described a search for "Americans walk on moon." The search results would include a scan of an original article about the moonwalk from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A user can also browse the paper's photographs, headlines, articles and advertisements.
According to news reports, Google has created an algorithm that will allow a user to go directly to a specific article in a paper, with related articles on the side of the page. The technology is similar to the effort Google has undertaken with books.
This is not Google's first effort to bring newspapers into its scope. In 2006, it began to digitize such papers as The New York Times and The Washington Post, making them searchable.
The integration of news articles into searches will occur in phases. At first, new articles will appear in Google results alongside already digitized material like the Times, under the heading of Google News Archive. Eventually, the company said, as the reservoir of new publications builds, they will be blended into the main search results.
But that is only the first step. Soni said Google intends to work with many more publishers, making billions of pages of newsprint from around the globe available for searching.
Michael Gartenberg, vice president for consumer strategy at industry research firm Jupitermedia, described Google's expanded print-publication initiative as "pretty cool." He said it will help to hasten the day when the kinds of research that still require going to a library -- such as looking at old newspapers on microfilm -- could end.
He added that this doesn't necessarily indicate the end of newspapers -- in fact, they may have now expanded their value -- but it could mean the end of microfilm archiving.
Asked how this benefited Google, or what their commercial strategy might be, Gartenberg said that, except for additional ad revenue from searches, it isn't clear yet how this might be monetized. But, he said, it does help Google attain its goal of "organizing the world's information."