August 25, 2011
Google Drops Some Content and Search Features
Google has made a number of quiet de-enhancements to its news and search services recently. One, highlighted by ebrandz.com is that the Google News Archives search is no longer available as a direct search, nor will there be any new content added to the project. Google had digitized many old newspapers from microform and offering them as free search results. The content that currently exists should still be available through a general search and through the Advanced Search option in Google News. The latter offers a search box option retrieve articles against a date range.
The Genealogy In Time website laments the loss for obvious reasons, and puts the blame on a combination of complaints from newspaper publishers and a shift of publishers to the Apple iPad platform. Never mind that much of this material is not in copyright any more. The site suggests that anyone who knows a newspaper by name and date can use this page to browse. Some of the content goes way back. Issues of the Glasgow Herald start at January 17, 1806 and end at February 17, 1990. That's 42,868 issues. Results appear as resizeable images. The quality of each image, not unexpectedly, varies, though most are readable. Anyone who has ever used microforms of older documents would not be surprised at this. Google does have a link on the page where users can flag images as unreadable. I'm not sure that would mean anything now with the discontinuance of the archive project. It is, as they say, better than nothing.
Another search enhancement that seems to have disappeared is Google Government search. There was a dedicated search page that was hardly promoted by Google at the url http://www.google.com/unclesam that now redirects back to the main search page. It was useful as the native search in some government web sites is woefully inadequate for finding materials. I'm talking to you FCC, FTC, et al. Google Government search was a nice alternative that weeded out the non-government junk. The alternative now is to use the Advanced Search page and limit search to a specific domain such as .gov or fcc.gov.
While we're on the subject of advanced search in Google, note that the option for Advanced Search no longer appears on the main Google page. You can still get there by going to http://www.google.com/advanced_search. The option still appears next to the search box on a results page for a previous search. Advanced Search has been vastly dumbed down simplified in its filtering options, suggesting that Google thinks its omnivorous general search is good enough. The filter that limits search by domain or site is still there for the time being. I'm not sure I would call any of this progress. [MG]
Another significant de-enhancement relates to the Google Blogs search page. Until a month or two ago, the page featured not just a search box, but also links to recent blog postings-- selected by Google's mysterious algorithm. All of that has disappeared. The blog search page now features only a search box. I.e. it now looks like the generic Google search page, and not like the News page. This has cut down traffic to some blogs that were previously regularly selected by Google's formula to be featured.
Posted by: Howard Friedman | Aug 28, 2011 4:18:56 PM