November 27, 2002

Google News can’t work without human editors…

Michael Kinsley says computers have gone too far. He makes the humorous case for protecting editors from the ravages of automation while allowing others–textile workers and auto workers–to be sacrificed in the name of progress. Kinsley says:

Google’s computers don’t actually gather the news. What they do is scan thousands of other Web pages and, using a secret formula, decide what the top stories are. Then they cleverly lift headlines and other material from different news sources, add links to these and other sites, and come up with what appears to be the Web site of an extremely cosmopolitan newspaper.

He says this is a bluff. I agree but for a different reason. For Google to tap into the headlines from other sites, a human editor first had to make choices at those other sites. Without humans making those first decisions, Google’s computers would be unable to do anything all. So, it seems to me, that Google’s choices are simply an amalgam of many human choices. How’s that for a great revelation?

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