IF you dig history, then this latest service from Web search leader Google is good news.
Google announced today the launching of a new web-based tool that will allow users to explore existing digitized newspaper articles and more recent online content dating back to the last 200 years.
Called Google News Archive Search, the new service searches hundreds of different news sources — both free and subscription-based news outlets — to answer a user’s query. Results are presented a la Google News search, with “related” articles about the same event grouped together, and free and paid-for articles displayed side by side.
The search also allows browsing the historical overview or timeline so users can identify key time periods and get a sense of the chronology of events. The service is accessed through the news archive website or the Google news page, and is also activated everytime there are relevant results to a user’s search on google.com.
Google made it clear that search results are based on relevance, not partnerships with companies.
With the launch of the news archive search, a BBC report noted how this “extends Google’s influence over how the world’s information is indexed, searched and accessed.”
Interviewed by the BBC, Professor Roy Rosenzeig, a historian from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University in the US, expressed caution about how much information Google now controls and the way public archives as libraries are now being replaced by private companies. But at the same time he also welcomed Google’s efforts to democratize access to historical documents, saying that:
“As a scholar and historian I want as much information as possible, accessible to as many people as possible at the least cost, and the extent to which Google is doing that is compelling.”