Journalism Personal Publishing Social Software

If this truly is the future of Google news, then the project I've been trying to persuade people to undertake for the last six – eight months is dead.

According to Google Blog there’s potentially a new front-page emerging for Google News. The current page can be viewed at, and its apparent replacement is here.

To be honest, this news doesn’t fill me with the love and happiness that you might expect. About six months ago I thought of something that has probably been thought of many times in the past. It was a kind of news site that used things like Daypop and Blogdex to determine what was timely and interesting to people on a per-link basis, which could then be pulled together using something like Google News to a by-story list and which could then be attached to commentary from the weblog community directly on the page. It would be like having a world of columnists and op-ed writers ready not only to collectively decide between them what was newsworthy, but also to directly comment on the stories on the same page as the story was displayed. It would be an immediate vox-pop. A gauge of a huge community of divergent interests… That’s when I started to get excited, because essentially you’d be talking about a site that allowed anyone in the world to write a comment piece on breaking news stories.. And this extended right past webloggers themselves to mainstream writers. And if you could figure out a way of organising micro-payments you might be able to read the thoughts of academics, actors, writers, thinkers from all over the world – along with your friends, the people who share interests with you, the democratically expert… This would be the place where a world of webloggery demonstrated that being mainstream didn’t mean individuals writing like ‘proper professionals’, where a journalist could equally be conceived as the person who was nearest to the event when it happened. Where the sheer value of hundreds of thousands of webloggers could be condensed and purified and injected straight into the world’s new media bloodstream.

Most importantly, although I knew that other people were thinking along similar lines, no one actually seemed to be doing anything about it. I talked to friends about the idea and how useful and cool it could be. Some were intrigued, some bored – as you’d expect. I wrote the whole thing down and pitched it in the general direction of people who might be in a position to allow me to develop a system as part of my working life. And now Google News is so close to the first stages of something I really wanted to be part of, and I feel like I did when I was in the middle of my doctorate, watching the dot-com boom happen all around me, knowing that wonderful things were happening elsewhere that would fascinate me, but that I had to accept I wasn’t able to be a part of… It’s terrible to have invested so much of yourself in an idea only to see it go ahead without you. Even if you’re hardly the first person in the world to see the potential…