Google's Remixed 'Your News Update' ala Heinlein, Clarke, Pohl

Google is adding to it's Your News Update news aggregation feature; it's podcast news that is carefully tailored for a very special audience - you!

Google has updated the service to create a more fluid listening experience, so that sitting through an entire session doesn’t feel like you’re just working your way through a hodgepodge of disparate stories. Each personalized playlist is structured to mimic a news program typical of what you’d hear on public radio: short clips about the big headlines up front that gradually shift into longer, more detailed stories. The goal is to create a seamless 90-minute broadcast—a mix of radio, podcast snippets, and text-to-speech article translations—tailored to an audience of one.

“We want to expand what podcasting is to include more newsy content that you have to work less hard to find,” says Liz Gannes, product manager for Google News. “People want to listen where it's convenient to them. That's why podcasting is blowing up.”

(Via Wired.)

Science fiction authors have been working on this idea for generations. In his 1941 classic Methuselah's Children, Robert Heinlein describes a device that can search for specific news topics:

"I wanted to see," said Lazarus, "if there was any news about us-the Families."

"I've been watching for that myself. Perhaps we had better use the soundtrack and let it hunt."

"O.K.," agreed Lazarus, stepping up to the receptor and changing the selector to audio. "What's the code word?'

"'Methuselah.'" P<> Lazarus punched the keys. The machine chattered and whined as it scanned and rejected track sped through it, then the film slowed with a triumphant click. "The DAILY DATA," it announced. "The only midwest news service subscribing to every major grid and private photophone to Luna City...
(Read more about Heinlein's newsbox)

Frederik Pohl goes further in his 1966 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot; see the entry for interests profile. Arthur C. Clarke is very modern in his use of this idea; see the entry on personal interest profile from The Fountains of Paradise (1978). See also the personalized news from Ralph 124c 41 + (1911), by Hugo Gernsback, which had the idea of a newspaper printed based on general subscriber interests.

Thanks to Cobra Kai Yoga for tweeting this story.

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