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Google and History

John Simkin

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BBC website:


Web giant Google is further expanding its online empire with the launch of the Google News Archive Search.

The web-based tool allows users to explore existing digitised newspaper articles spanning the last 200 years and more recent online content.

People using the search are shown results from both free and subscription-based news outlets.

Partners in the project include the websites of US newspaper the New York Times and the Guardian from the UK.

Other sources include news aggregators, websites which collect and display news stories from multiple sources.

"The goal here is to be able to explore history as it unfolded," said Anurag Acharya, an engineer at Google and one of the team behind the project.

"It's fascinating to see how people's attitudes and emotions have changed through time."

The new service searches hundreds of different news sources to answer a user's query. The exact number of sources is confidential.

Results are presented in similar fashion to a Google News search, with "related" articles about the same event grouped together. Free and charged-for articles are displayed side by side.

With pages from commercial websites, the cost of viewing them is also shown. Google says search results are based on relevance, not partnerships with companies.

Users can also view articles using a timeline that displays key dates associated with a story.

So the first Moon landing would highlight 1969 as a key date, but also identify other years when lunar landings took place or when the topic was in the news.

"The ability to browse this historical overview allows users to identify key time periods and get some sense of the flow of events," said Mr Acharya.

The earliest known searchable story is, he said, from "somewhere in the mid-1700s" - considerably older than the current 30-day archive offered through Google News.

The service is accessed through the news archive website or the Google news page. It is also activated when it can provide relevant results to a user's search on google.com.

In this case, links to the most relevant historical news articles are displayed separately above the normal search results.

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