An experiment Google is conducting on Google News includes a special section that features favorite stories culled from editors at Reuters, The Washington Post, Newsday and several other publications.
That approach is a critical departure from Google's usual math-based methodology. The Editors' Picks section lets professional journalists-rather than the usual search algorithms-choose the stories that appear there, according to the Nieman Journalism Lab, which discovered the Google News experiment June 10.
Google confirmed that the program was one of 50 to 200 experiments the company regular runs on its Websites all over the world.
"Right now, we are running a very small experiment in Google News called Editors' Picks," a Google spokesperson told eWEEK. "For this limited test, we're allowing a small set of publishers to promote their original news articles through the Editors' Picks section."
Participating publications are not paying to place their links, which rotate similar to the way stories rotate on Google News. Links users see one minute will be replaced by links from other publications the next.
Slate, BBC News, Computerworld, US Magazine, The Atlantic and Fast Company are among the publications participating in the experiment, a sort of olive branch to a publishing industry that has long feared Google is unfairly usurping their content.
The peace offering is that publications can choose to promote already popular stories, or spotlight lesser-known links that might not appear on Google News to boost the traffic for those stories.
Whatever the motivation, this sort of human-crafted curation is proving increasingly popular in an age in which user-generated content has become the rule instead of the exception.
Twitter lets users create Lists of favorite people to follow. Facebook users become fans of Web pages.
Now Google, which threw its hat into the social media ring with Google Buzz, is toying with human curation on its normally algorithmically generated Websites.