Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Google News bitchlist

Anyone who uses Google News will agree with the sentiment that news aggregators are the second-most useful gift of the internet (after free porn, of course). For the benefit of the unaware - Google News and suchlike news aggregators offer the facility of setting up an account and choosing your preferences about what kind of news you are interested in. Then on, whenever you log on, you will get a filtered display of those news items that are topmost among your chosen interest areas. Words cannot describe how better-informed I am, in indirect proportion to the amount of effort I have to put in to reach there, thanks to Google News.

Of course, the technology is not yet perfect. If your chosen interest area is broad-based (for example, "US Top Stories"), there is no way to suppress a certain sub-area of news that you have no interest in (for example, news with the keyword "Britney Spears"). It doesn't help that at any given point of time, American news media seems to have a collective fascination for an event or individual that has no apparent newsworthiness (for me, at least).

Since Google News already bunches together news items by subject, it seems it would be easy enough to provide a small button next to each news type which says something like "Don't show this again", like Pandora's "I don't like this song" button. But no, every time I go there I have to be subject to a protracted bombardment of non-news about the Jonbenet saga or Obama's Hawaaii vacation. It seems Google News does recognize this; the feedback page features a preset suggestion - "Filter out specific sources or topics".

But till the time that I am empowered to filter out such seemingly popular but completely useless news items, I have decided to vent here by showcasing those non-news that I wish were not showcased (ironic, eh?). I shall kick off right away with not one but two peeves.

(I do recognize that singling out Google News for all this bitching is unfair. All traditional media sources - newspapers, TV, radio - are essentially news aggregators albeit with substantially less control over customization. But I just feel libelous today.)

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Enough Already! #1

Obama's coronation
Yes, yes, I know its called an inauguration, but I am just saying what it seems like. I knew the shit had hit the fan when even I found NPR, which is normally restrained, going totally nuts about it. It is still a few days before King Obama takes the oath, but I am already sick and tired of hearing about it. Enough already!

* * * * * * *

Enough Already! #2

Making a demigod of Chesley Sullenberger
I have no doubt that it takes skill to land an airplane in a river. Like millions other, I also saw the remarkable picture of people standing, seemingly calmly, on the submerged wings of the airplane and rubbed my eyes in disbelief. But believe me, I don't want to know what the pilot's elementary school scores are. Enough already!

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