December 12, 2019

Article at The Inquirer

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Google is revamping how it shares news

Google is revamping how it shares news
The news, according to Google

ALTHOUGH GOOGLE NEWS' FUTURE in Europe is far from guaranteed, the search giant is continuing to work on it, and if you're in the United States, you're now being treated to a whole load of new content.

On this side of the Atlantic, it's the old familiar. Enter a search term, and you'll see a bunch of boxes with related news stories. But Google has recognised that a topic doesn't just have one story related to it at a time. Much as most would wish it however they voted, there isn't just one Brexit news story around, for example.

So from now on, Google will put a bunch of news stories together when you search for a topic, each carousel below the other.

"Within each story, the new structure will make more room for high-quality content--beyond just the most recent coverage--as well as more diverse sources, to bring more context and perspective to the day's news," wrote Duncan Osborn, the product manager of Google Search, explaining the change.

This seems to push the actual search results down some distance, which could have some unintended consequences, but Google (probably) knows what it's doing.

While nobody is that interested in how the search sausage is made, Osborn couldn't help but give us a few tidbits. "To power this new experience, we developed a new story-understanding technology to map the people, places and things involved in a news story, and then draw connections between them," he explained.

"To generate these groups, we use a variety of machine learning techniques including BERT models to examine the related articles and determine where one story ends and another begins."

BERT - or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers - is something Google has covered in more detail here, on the very slim chance that you're interested.

In any case, it's out in the US now and will move to "more languages and locations in the coming months," apparently.

"We hope these updates help people engage with the most relevant information and build a deeper understanding of the world around them," concluded Osborn. Well, hope springs eternal, eh? µ

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