Google News Strikes Blow Against Cynicism, Will Drive Pageviews to Quality Content

In a Saturday morning blog post the Google News team just announced a new HTML tag they will be scanning for in the headers of news articles: standout. Publishers can call out their own content when they publish particularly good stuff or they can highlight someone else’s content that inspired their own. You can call your own stuff “standout” up to 7 times in a week – any more and the tags will be ignored. But you can highlight other peoples’ content as much as you want. Google seems to imply in its announcement, though it doesn’t say it explicitly, that its algorithm will reward publishers who engage in the best practice of generously applauding great content on other sites with recognition.

People say that online news has grown cynical and pandering because that’s the only way to thrive under the rule of the angry god of pageviews. But what if the big traffic drivers put a premium on generosity, if not machine-recognized authenticity? That kind of strategy could be carried to quite an extreme – the Google algorithms could give extra rank to content with a better Flesch–Kincaid readability test score, or lower rank to any site that ever mentioned anyone’s name who’d appeared in headlines along with the phrase “sex tape.” That’s probably a little too paternalistic – but the Standout tag seems like a simple and smart way to reward content that publishers appreciate.

It’s interesting that simply linking elsewhere isn’t enough anymore. It will also be very interesting to see what kinds of content publishers think is their best, how often they do highlight the content of others with an outbound Standout tag, etc. That should all be available for independent analysis, too, as it’s not just Google that can see these HTML tags. What kind of relationship do you expect various sites to have with Standout? GigaOm vs BusinessInsider? Mashable vs. TechCrunch? How will ReadWriteWeb use them? You’ll just have to wait and see!

I think this is a great idea and I hope it helps flesh out a linked web of content that prioritizes serving the reader over short-term self-referential pageviews at all costs.

There’s a lot more to be said about this but I’ll defer to Ethan Klapper’s write-up at Mediabistro for more. Heck, I’d tell the bots it’s a standout article if my personal site here was indexed by Google News. As a one-person, low-key operation it won’t be – so I’ll have to just link the old fashioned way.

More Beautiful Location Data Made More Beautiful

Some geo data related links I found interesting tonight in a Friday night reading a geo Twitter list in Flipboard.    

NAVTEQ Network for Developers: Check out some of these cool NAVTEQ products

These look very cool – real-time traffic, 3d maps, street sign visualizations and more – available for developers to enrich other location services.  I don’t know what the price point is, how much fun the data is to work with, etc. but I love the idea.

Google Geo Developers Blog: Five Great Fusion Tables + Maps Examples

Google added the ability to include geodata in its Fusion Tables product this week – now this post highlights 5 good examples of maps that you can thus create.  I love me some map publishing – I got to meet the fabulous Pete Warden of Open Heat Map yesterday and was happy to congratulate him on his tool’s coverage in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Google Map Edits Viewed Live…Eventually

The link above is to a new site called Google Map Maker Pulse, where (in theory) you can view live Google Map Maker edits with made to all around the world.  That’s one of the ways Google Maps gets improved over time.  Unfortunately it’s a big 404 right now.

FluidDB » Blog Archive » Importing data into FluidDB with Flimp

The good people at FluidDB (a crazy awesome tool I wrote about here) have built a data importer for their collaborative, dynamic database service and the first data sets they imported are metadata for everything on and  They say the (meta)data is now more searchable, cross-referencable and editable now than ever before.  A whole lot of that is geo data.  And what’s not geo data is related to place – because everything is, right?  I should add locations to all my blog posts.  Reminds me of this excited post I wrote this week about Extractiv – a bulk semantic analysis service that you simply must read about if you’re a data-loving geek.

Bonus: My wife found this video tonight – of the winners so far of Google’s DemoSlam contest.

Location: Home in Portland, Oregon.

I Wrote the Foreword to A Really Good (Free) Book

Last month I wrote the foreword to a new book called The Shift: The Evolving Market, Players and Business Models in a 2.0 World and it’s now available – for free! It’s essentially a marketing vehicle for the very large telecommunication infrastructure provider Alcatel-Lucent, but it’s marketing 2.0 of the best kind: the book makes almost zero mention of the company at all. It just talks about how changes in society and mobile internet devices are combining in such a way that network service providers should offer application programming interfaces to a wider developer community. It’s a really good real, actually.

My foreword isn’t my best writing, but I was proud to have been given the opportunity. I wrote a better article, one I’m quite proud of in fact, this week about an acquisition the company made: Acquisition Aims to Change History for Mobile Apps & Data.

I recommend reading the book if you’re into thinking about these kinds of topics. You can read selections online and if you want, the company will send you a free paper copy in exchange for your contact info. They may or may not call you, I’m guessing, to discuss whether you’d like to buy a big telephony infrastructure middleware software package. 🙂 Or they may want to talk to you if you’re a developer. Either way, it’s no big whoop and it’s certainly worth it to do all the learning you’ll get from the book. It’s fun.

You can check out the book and its corresponding online community here.

A Look Behind the Curtain at Techmeme

In late 2005 former Intel developer Gabe Rivera launched what is now TechMeme, a powerful semi-automated “meme tracker” that discovers the hottest conversations in the tech blogosphere every 5 minutes. It’s an incredible resource and has become a financial success for Rivera as well.

Earlier this month I interviewed Techmeme’s first hired human editor, Megan McCarthy, over on ReadWriteWeb. I think McCarthy’s job is a fascinating one and a good indicator of some future trends on the internet. For whatever reason the interview didn’t get as much traction as I hoped it would upon first publication, so I’ve decided to republish it here to make sure readers of get a chance to see it as well.

One of the issues we didn’t discuss in the interview was the intersection of gender and technology. That’s one I try to think about a lot though, and if it’s of interest to you too then I’d suggest you check out this two year old article I wrote about women on Techmeme and the new ReadWriteWeb Custom Search Engine of Tech Blogs Written by Women.

And now our interview reprinted…

meganpic2.jpgTechmeme is a semi-automated site that tracks the hottest conversations among tech blogs each day, with updates every five minutes. It’s one of the most innovative efforts in news gathering today. In December, Techmeme hired its first human editor, freelance writer Megan McCarthy.

McCarthy tends the gears of Techmeme, makes sure the content on the site remains of high quality and helps ensure the inclusion of new and important voices. It sounds like an awesome job and one that has probably never existed before – a half woman, half robot, news gathering machine. How can you get your blog on Techmeme? What’s in the future for the site? We asked Megan in the following interview.
Continue reading “A Look Behind the Curtain at Techmeme”

Three Things I’m Really Excited About Right Now

The new version of NetNewsWire, Newsgator’s desktop feedreader for the Mac, is fantastic.  I’m not just saying that because I was honored to be quoted in their press release – it’s really a joy to use.  I haven’t been able to test out GoogleReader offline via Google Gears yet, but this new NNW is so nice that I’m struggling to find the motivation to do so.  That’s awful – I will do so soon and will let you know how it goes.  Perhaps I’ll do that when I take some special time to clean up my OPML files – something I’m sure we could all benefit from taking the time to do!

Speaking of OPML files, or collections of RSS feeds if you’re unfamiliar, if you’re a Firefox user you should check out BlogRovr.  I don’t use Firefox (I prefer Safari) but it’s plug-ins like this that make me doubt my decision.  BlogRover lets you upload your personal OPML file of feeds you read, along with a selection of topical feeds they offer that you can chose between and then every time you load a web page, they check to see if your favorite sources have linked to said page.  The viewing options are really nice too, but the concept – wow!  Talk about bringing it all together – yes, please – automate a quiet notification if any of my favorite sources have also written about whatever I’m reading.  Love it!

Finally, speaking of recursive online art – are you familiar with the film Four Eyed Monsters?  It’s not to be missed!  Two artists in New York date for like 6 months without speaking to each other directly, just through art.  Then they make a movie about their falling in love, video blog the heck out of it and get thousands of friends on MySpace.  Feature film debut on Valentine’s Day in theatres across the country, any city with sufficient requests via their website.  I saw it in Portland, loved it.  

The news?  Now the full feature length film is up on YouTube and movie social networking site Spout is running a cost-per-action style sponsorship.  For every person who creates an account on their site, via the FourEyedMonsters promotion, the company is giving the FEM crew $1.  I don’t know if it will work, and I hope there was a base level of sponsorship as part of the deal – but hey, this is cool news.  I urge you to create a Spout account and support these awesome indy artists leveraging online social media!   I learned about this news on the up and coming blog 901am.  I’m going to blog about it over on SplashCast this afternoon and embed the full video blog series along with the full length film.  Yay!