TechDirt comments on the NYT’s story on the fact that pretty much no one is commenting on Google News stories, despite Google’s attempts to get folks to do so. Why is that, we wonder? Why, given that Google News is one of the largest, most successful, most important drivers of news reading in the world, why won’t we engage in a conversation around it?
It’s simple, really, and it goes to the heart of what Google is not good at: Community. Look at the comment threads on Digg, for example, or Ars Technica, or Boing Boing. Why are there such long, boisterous comment threads? Because we know that the news we are reading there was driven by human beings, and when we respond, those human beings are paying attention, and want to be part of the conversation. But Google News is driven entirely by a computer algorithm. There is no explicit community. No one goes there to engage in community. Even if one can argue, as one can with web search, that the News algorithm is derived from community actions, it is not subservient to them, as is Digg’s. In short, there are no stakeholders in the Google News community. It’s not a place people go to be social.
Once again, Google has shown its Achilles heel – computers are great at generating smart results, and terrible as proxies for community. This is also reflected in the company’s approach to policy around new community features like those at Google Reader, an asberger’s of sorts when it comes to understanding how people want to connect.
Update: Many of you noted in comments that Google News Comments are only for those in the stories. This is true, and I should have mentioned it. Clearly this would be different if anyone could comment. Even so, I think, it proves the point – folks who are in news stories do not see Google News as a place to connect to *their* story.