Google…Editor?!

My reader has been blowing up in the last day. Not because of any special world news or cultural event.

It’s TechCrunch 50 time. Which means they produce higher than their already prolific daily offering announcing all of the cool new tools and “next big things” being rolled out. The buzz winner, without question, is a new way of news searching out of Google. It’s still in labs, but it has a name: they call it Google FastFlip.

How could I not check it out? I’m a pretty loyal disciple of Google in nearly everything else I do online – why can’t enjoying the newspaper and news blogs be the same?

Something was apparent when I surfed over, though: this is a new Google. This is not a plebian algorithm of the link economy that determines the “recommended” stories, at least as far as I can see. A few weeks ago, Google snuck in a recommended portion of its news aggregator at GoogleNews – there is very likely a connection here. But take a look at the following screen shots from FastFlip:

Recommended Articles

Recommended Articles

Google...Editor?!

Most Viewed Articles

See anything going on here? The recommended articles and most viewed are the exact same.

It first crossed my mind that whatever selection method – speaking from the same place that page rank now has in search results – would absolutely crush any results further down the list of recommended reading.

This to me appears like we have come full circle. Even though there is a more localized and topic based search available on the page, it’s below this new masthead of recommended reading. That makes it an afterthought of Google’s determined headlines. And, if this becomes popular, I’m also pretty certain that there will be an impact on search trends, which speaks to an impact on revenue by way of search advertising.

I’m usually not one to get pessimistic this quickly toward the search giant (aside: the most antiquated term out there, as demonstrated in the last years), but I have so many questions about what will determine the recommended reading. Specific partners from the publishers? Stories that are served the most in news search results? Highest rated and “liked” content? Other factors?

Google now has an opportunity – as an institution – to determine and highlight the agenda of the day. The democracy of an infinite blogosphere may actually be in danger from the one partner who once used its reach and tools to push users to every last corner of it.

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