Google News: More ’Up Close and Personal’

I've already written too much about Google in a single 24 hour period. But what the heck . . . Google has further personalized its news site by offering "recommendations" to those who are signed in. Here's how it works:

By signing in to personalized news and keeping Personalized Search enabled, you allow Google to track and save your news selections. Then, Google News can automatically recommend relevant stories just for you by using smart algorithms that analyze your selections. The algorithms compare your tastes to the aggregate tastes of other groups of similar Google News users. Simply put, we recommend news stories to you that have been read by many other users who've also read similar stories as you in the past.

The more you use Google News while you're signed in to your Google Account, the better your recommendations will become over time. Note that we cannot provide recommended news for you if you do not sign in to your Google Account or if you turn off Personalized Search component of personalized Google News.

There's also a new "most popular" button (which has long existed on Yahoo! news). Essentially, the new recommendations feature is like the passive RSS and news feeds/tracking that Google has been doing with its Sidebar tool.

This is another incentive for users to "sign in" to Google (create an account).

This and many recent initiatives like it are the fruit of Google's effort, since early last year, to gather more personal and behavioral data about its users. It will be very interesting to see whether and how the recent privacy flap with the Justice Department has any long-term chilling effect on users' willingness to register or otherwise offer their personal data to search engines.

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Here's a Google announcement about News coming out of beta:

I wanted to let you know that today we are announcing Google News is graduating from beta with a couple of shiny new features. When we introduced Google News in September, 2002 our goal was to enable readers to get a broader perspective and dig deeper into the news—perhaps reading ten articles on a topic instead of one.

To do this, we developed a service that delivered news in an entirely new way by presenting it in "clusters" that displayed related articles in a single group. In only a few years, Google News has grown to 22 regional editions in 10 languages.

In addition to taking Google News out of beta, we are also introducing personalized news headlines. By further integrating Personalized Search into Google News, users can now receive recommended news stories based on their past news searches and articles they've read, giving them suggestions for interesting stories to explore that they may not have discovered otherwise.

Users who want to receive personalized news headlines simply sign up for Personalized Search. Then, whenever they're signed in to their Google Account, they'll see recommended headlines based on what they've read in the past. These results appear along the left hand column but users can also get a full page of recommended stories by clicking on the section. All of this is done automatically using algorithms: for example, we might recommend news stories to you that many other users have read, especially when you and they have read similar stories in the past.

We have also added another new section to the left-hand column that shows the most popular recent stories in the Google News edition you are viewing. Now you can see the top stories being published by editors across the web, other stories popular with readers, and topics that you track or are interested in—all on one page.

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