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Monday, September 14, 2009

A review of Google Fast Flip | why i think news is failing

Today Google released its news reading tool Google Fast Flip. It's supposed to make online news faster to find and read, and get interesting articles quicker. This is the first time I have been disappointed with something Google has put out. The idea itself is good; make it easier to flip quickly through articles to find what we want (Google is all about helping the users and increasing accessibility) but news sources in general are failing, especially print with readers getting more and more of their information from online sources and blogs. It’s obvious that something has to change, I was really excited to see some names that they "partnered" with but once on the page I was confused. I started flipping through the articles and I had to click the button pretty quickly to see the loading message... good so far. Then I happen upon one I wanted to read but I quickly realized that all the articles are just rendered screenshots off the actual website, and it’s done with poor rendering engine that doesn't have all the features. First I find this little issue on BBC page but good coding on their part replaces the video with a picture.
but just a few pages later and I find another error this time on the cosmo girl article
There’s nothing on this entire page. Where’s the content? There are only 40 pages and it’s the first day for public release and there are broken articles. I try and click on the article and I can instantly see what’s going on, it’s all flash (if you don't support flash shouldn't you make sure the page isn't based on it?), I find other articles missing their advertisement missing (JavaScript doesn't render) what’s wrong? I don't get it. I know it’s a beta but this method for showing news will never work it’s just screen shots. You lose all the good parts of the internet (analytics for the most part) and the content still doesn't work. Heres what I thought it was going to do... Google would get a special raw story feed from newspapers and would show just the text and a few ads placed throughout the article preloading the stories as you flip through them. Even better it should load the text then if you stay on the page for a couple seconds then load the adverts. We use html to track all kinds of things the newspapers would get info on what stories catch user’s eyes and still get their ad revenue in. I don’t want to have to click an extra time to get to the real article. I’m a RSS user and I love Google reader it’s how I happen across this lab in the first place. I feel like it’s just not up to the standards of what Google normally puts out and doesn't really help the usability of the articles. I like to believe I’m a "power" Googler and have almost every service they offer and constantly are referring my customers to their apps but I really don't think this will work which brings me to my rant about online news. Are newspapers just not getting it? The internet is about making things easier and open. Running through my RSS today I found an article on the Wall Street Journal and i got this

I feel like its lying about what’s on the page. Now I give them credit for trying to monetize their online traffic its better than some of the other places that don't even want you linking to them (like the AP). But are you crazy? Links are traffic, trust and rank and that’s means money. Learn how to make money online and stop grasping for the old ways of publishing news. Penalize people for using / liking your content is just stupid. In search engine optimization we love people using and linking to use its called user generated content and it is often hard to get. They are driving you the traffic, you just need to learn how to make money off it not sue them for it. I don't know anything about the newspaper industry and I’m just giving my opinion but look at Hulu they have finally figured out how to distribute TV properly and I don't have to pay. I thought that would never happen, newspapers need to grow up and stop being like the RIAA, your industry is changing and you need to get with the times and stop biting the hand that feeds you.

I really thought I used too much voice in this post I want to keep an objective view on events and things I review here so please take the time to comment and let me know what you liked / hated.

Thank you for your time

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A review of Google Fast Flip | why i think news is failing