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Another Case of Proactive Technology: Google Helping Newspapers Help You

google-fast-flipReading newspapers today is like making bread. It takes hours and you get your hands dirty. It’s a tradition best reserved for the long weekend.

Between meetings and overseas calls it’s easier to read the day’s top stories online. You might have a personalized Google News page or a Google reader account. You might scan the most-read section of the New York Times. You might refresh Drudgereport every 5 minutes… Regardless, you get the bulk of your news online and you probably have a routine by now.

Our new collective routine is hurting newspaper revenues and causing journalists to write sad articles about their looming unemployment.

Yet there is a hope for the newspaper business…and it looks something like Google’s Fast Flip.  Fast Flip works to connect readers to the news stories they want to read from a variety of reputable sources. Once you’re in Google’s Fast Flip you select a category (I think newspapers called these “sections”) that appeals to you. Click it. A new article relevant to your category will appear, looking like a ghostly PDF. If you like the piece you are welcome to click the story and go to the article’s source. If you’re not interested in the story, Google’s Fast Flip interface warmly invites you to see the next article in the category you selected. You are also allowed to vote on articles you like and share the stories that interest you. Essentially, Google turns articles into condensed images so they can be “flipped” through without any loading time. Fast Flip, for what its worth, can turn you into a speed skimmer, able to digest hundreds of headlines in the time it takes you to drink your coffee.

In the near future ads will ring around each article making both Google and the newspapers money. It’s a win-win that just has to find a audience. I personally like Fast Flip, but I don’t know if I will use it daily. I can imagine others feel the same way. It’s hard to break habits–especially ones of convenience born from the web.

In the future search engines will find increasingly innovative ways to bring you news that’s guaranteed to interest you. Right now, we will still have to flip through a lot of articles and ads that we don’t find especially interesting to find something noteworthy. Fast Flip just makes the process a whole lot faster. The revolution in media will come when someone can find a way to make the process a whole lot more entertaining.



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