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September 02, 2011


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Richard Torian

Isn’t Google News a feed – meaning that new news stories might continuously come down the feed as news comes from various sources?

If yes, then I am not surprised that different stories (feeds) would be seen over a period of time. And this could account for the variety that was observed.

Richard Torian

Mary Ellen Bates

Yes, Google News is a feed, but that's not what this survey looked at. Remember that this was a test of *search*, not of what happens when you just go to the Google News front page and see the news feed.

I chose a topic (Israel) that is reliably in the news but not the subject of a breaking news story that day -- a test that I thought would address your concern about variation over the course of several hours. And I assumed that, whatever filters may have accumulated on searchers' browsers, if it affected a search like this, it probably affected all their "real" searches too.

When I tested this ahead of time, searching for the word Israel in Google News over the course of a day, I found that I reliably saw the same stories in the same order. The exact headline varied; I accounted for that in my analysis, by combining all headlines that covered the same story, regardless of which one was featured.

Dennis O'Connor

Try using chrome's incognito browser window (or any of the other browser's anonymous options) as a starting place. Then cross check search results, news results etc.

This approach should strip out personalization and yield a more realistic picture of what the Google Index holds.

Of course if everyone is using the 'personalized approach' and our concern is what people see or find when they search, we are out of luck.

Dennis O'Connor (21st Century Information Fluency 21cif.com)

Lt. Uhura

The flipside of this concern is an appreciation that we all are NOT getting the exact same results/feed/brain-narrowing. There is NO PERFECT SEARCH methodology. Any will have weaknesses and prejudices. In the past it was more heavily weighted on page views/popularity rankings/links. SEO became the name of the game.
Google's search engine/method may result in a more natural result -- that is more diversified and organic based on who is searching and who they are evolving to be (as seen through their online activity/interests).
Google may be scary & cause for concern, but not uniquely so and not without some possible benefits to a diverse society.

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