Will Google Help Save Old Media?
Josh Cohen is the Senior Business Product Manager at Google News, where he manages global product strategy, marketing, and publisher outreach. He was previously vice president of business development for Reuters Media and director of business development for SmartMoney.com.
Question: What compromises or innovations have helped pacify Google News critics?
Josh Cohen: Yeah. I mean, I think there's a number of things that we're doing that get into that space about trying to -- I mean, Google News is somewhat unique in this way. I think every Google product, it doesn't work if the users don't like it. If people aren't excited about what you're doing -- and whether it's Gmail or Google Maps or YouTube or Google News -- I mean, if you don't have a product that people want to use, you kind of don't have anything. Google News is a little bit different, though, in that we have -- so much of it is dependent on our relationship with publishers. So we kind of have two audiences in that sense.
So some of the things that we've done, for example, we launched something in September in Google labs called Fast Flip -- as just one example of this -- where we were playing around with what does the news consumption look like. How do you change that? And so it allows you to have these sort of screen shots, and you can just rapidly flip from one page to the next, trying to marry that offline reading experience with some of the benefits of online aggregation and personalization. And we had when we first launched around 20 different titles -- I’m sorry -- 40 or so different titles from about 20 different publishing companies; you know, people like The New York Times and The Washington Post, BusinessWeek and a handful of others. And the response was really positive. I mean, obviously, you know, we had to sort of figure out, is this something that people want to use? And the numbers were really good. But also publishers were excited about it because they saw it as a different model, a different way to try and get their content out there.
And then just last week, we just -- we announced that we doubled the number of publishers who are participating in this. It's still in labs, and we're still trying to figure out exactly what we're going to do with this, but we were really excited not only by the reaction that we got from users, but also from publishers, because they -- I think they see that we're continuing to innovate in this space, and now we're trying to figure out what can we do together; how can we experiment? I think one of the most exciting things with the conversations I had with publishers is, almost all of them these days tend to end with some variation of the statement, hey, when you're doing something new, we want to be your guinea pig. And for Google, that's great, because that's just how we tend to operate. So as more and more publishers kind of raise their hand and say, we want to figure this out too; we don't know what the right answer is, but we want to try something different, and we figure that there are ways that we can work together to try and do that -- that's -- I mean, I think that's really -- that's probably one of the more exciting things for me.
Question: Will Google try to sustain dying newspapers and the quality content they provide?
Josh Cohen: Well, I think one important clarification is, I think that we are less concerned about what the medium is. I think what we care about is making sure that news continues to survive, that enterprise journalism, that investigative pieces, that these types of things that traditionally have come through newspapers, that that type of content continues to survive. But whether or not it's in the newspaper form, or whether it's in a, you know, a Kindle, or whether it's online, I think we're pretty much agnostic about how that's done, as long as that content continues to survive. And so that's our real interest, is to try and make sure that news online not only survives, but thrives as well. So it's not necessarily about the newspaper per se.
Now, with that said, I mean, I think we're looking at all these different areas. We continue to figure out how we can -- to drive that traffic at. We've also looked at different ways of engagement, Fast Flip being one example of that. Another thing that we launched a couple of weeks ago with The New York Times and The Washington Post is another experiment called The Living Story Page, which is really trying to create a new format for news. So much of what you see online today is a reflection of what was in the newspaper, just -- you know, you've taken that article that was in the paper the day before and just stuck it online, not really taking advantage of the ways in which you can tell stories online. So this was an attempt to really just begin to experiment around a different sort of format and a different way of telling stories online -- tools like that and experiments like that to try and move the reader experience forward.
And then obviously the business model too. I mean, you certainly -- you can't ignore that, and so Google has an ongoing initiative of just -- it's core to our business -- about trying to improve online advertising and make it more efficient, make it more smarter, more targeted. But also we are looking at different models. We've had discussions with publishers around subscription content, things that we've already publicly announced with regards to Google Books and the ability to purchase digital copies of books from publishers through Google. I mean, is there a possibility to extend that into news, for example? And how could you leverage Google's technology to do it that way? So I think we are -- we have a lot in the mix right now, and I think we're trying to think about how we can move it forward in some of those different areas.
Google cares about whether quality news survives, says Josh Cohen. But what about quality newspapers?
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.
- A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
- Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
- An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
Credit: logika600 / Shutterstock<p>Remaining healthy requires regular screenings. Here again we see a disassociation between risk reduction and proactivity. Seventy-seven percent of respondents don't talk to their doctors about lifestyle habits that support brain health; 51 percent have never been screened for depression; 44 percent have never had a neurological exam; and 32 percent have never been screened for hearing problems. </p><p>Common early warning signs of dementia, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to</a> Dr. Jason Karlawish, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, include repetitive questions and stories, difficulties with complex daily tasks, and trouble with orientation. </p><p>In terms of intervention, <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a>, <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/obesity-dementia" target="_self">diet</a>, building a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-reserve" target="_self">brain reserve</a>, and challenging your brain (such as learning a new language or musical instrument) are all proven methods for staving off the ravages of Alzheimer's. Oxytocin has also <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/alzheimers-oxytocin" target="_self">showed promise</a> in brain-addled mice, while researchers found positive results for a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">group of intermittent fasters</a> in promoting neurogenesis. </p><p>Epidemiologist Bryan James says that dementia is <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/15/176920391/how-exercise-and-other-activities-beat-back-dementia" target="_blank">not an inevitable result</a> of aging. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings. Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia." </p><p>Professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Andrew Budson, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends</a> aerobic exercise and the Mediterranean diet. As has long been known, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fasts like nuts and olive oil seem to have brain-boosting properties. </p><p>To learn more, take the <a href="https://www.mdvip.com/brain-health-iq-quiz" target="_blank">Brain Health IQ quiz</a>.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>