Google: Read Better, More In-Depth

Each day the Internet feels like a newly published set of encyclopedias. So much new content, only about 16 waking hours to take it in, and really it’s only a few hours before my eyes start to burn and my reading turns to a scatter-brained skimming.

Perhaps the pendulum is beginning to swing back, having reached its furthest point called Twitter where strings of letters allow people to, very loosely speaking, communicate. Google is now taking steps to turn us back into thoughtful readers.

Google has launched a site that collects more in-depth Internet articles than the already-brief news cycle allows. Spotlight is currently linking to articles from long-form publications like Vanity Fair and the Atlantic Monthly as well as a David Brooks op-ed from (gasp) way back on Monday.

The Nieman Journalism Lab and the New York Times Media Blog report that Google’s Spotlight uses an algorithm to collect stories that have earned their keep by surviving on blogs and gathering online discussion for several days.

Google’s other long-form project is its Library Project, which I explained earlier.

The deadline for challenges against the settlement between Google’s Library Project and the Author’s Guild, along with other groups that have a stake in current copyright protections, has been extended until Tuesday. The settlement allows Google to publish entire books in PDF and EPUB format which can be utilized by portable reading devices (except Amazon’s Kindle, which does not support the EPUB format).

The Author’s Guild has fired back at Amazon who claims it opposes the settlement by way of fighting for a fair and equitable marketplace. The Author’s Guild notes that Amazon already controls the online book market and its Kindle is already several lengths ahead of other portable readers, in terms of sales anyway.

Let’s hope Google will provide us with material to keep our heads above the brain eating, piranha infested waters of the ever-shortening news cycle. But let’s not allow ourselves to believe that authors will benefit from the Library Project in the long run. Just as iTunes benefited listeners and not musicians, with Spotlight and the Library Project, it’s readers who win out.

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