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The Media Businesses Google The Internet

Mapping Google News 133

Posted by timothy
from the that-hansel-he's-so-hot-right-now dept.
CousinLarry writes "A neat project called Buzztracker.org has been mining Google News for over a year and keeping track of relationships between geographic locations mentioned in articles. The results are some really cool maps that actually seem to reflect the "buzz" of the day - check out the Vatican clusters from earlier this month, or the global New Year's chatter. You can also dig down into the articles from which the maps were generated."
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Mapping Google News

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where is Slashdot on the map?
  • Empire? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does that map remind anyone of the old game called Empire, or is it just me?

    Makes me want to load it up again.. any modern implementations of it around?
  • This is by far one of the most interesting uses of data-mining I've seen in while. Neat to see what are the hotspots, as far as news goes, in the world.

    The guys at Buzztracker desrve a cookie (edible variety).
    • I'd like to see a graphic map of where these stories are, rather than just a list of places

      I have a hard time connecting words and locations.
    • by FuturePastNow (836765) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:53PM (#12206381)
      This [privateradio.org] site has another list, of the sources Google News uses (something Google refuse to publish). Also an interesting use of data mining.
      • So I wonder if that means Slashdot is slightly more important to Google News (with 6 references) than Asahi Shimbun or CBC Manitoba (with only 5 references each.)

        But yeah, the implications are that data mining makes it pretty much impossible for Google to hide anything used from the public. I like it a lot.

    • It isn't pure data...it's been tainted by googles indexing... google could however do this against its internal dataset to get the least margin of error with the data that is known to exist.
    • Nov 3rd? Dec 26? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mzieg (317686) <mark@zieg.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:13PM (#12207039) Homepage
      I have to question the results a bit. Look at the archive for November 2004 [buzztracker.org], especially around Nov 3rd [buzztracker.org]. Anyone remember any "buzz" about Ohio? Maybe a Florida 2000 reprisal? "Battleground States," anyone? That was a hugely geographic news event, and it doesn't even register on their chart. Likewise, Sumatra barely merits a blip on Dec 26 [buzztracker.org]. I'm not sure I'm buying this.

      What we have here is one computer algorithm aggregating another computer algorithm's assessment of "newsworthy," with no provision for hindsight or fluff-vs-historical weighting. It's a neat idea, and the graphics are pretty slick, but I don't see any real value here.

      • I understand your point, however I think it is partially based on a false premise: In reguard to Nov 3rd. The site tracks cities, not states.

        After checking Dec 26, 27, 28, and 29th they do have Indonesia, but it doesn't show up until the 28th (and then under Jakarta only). I would guess this is due to them not having Sumatra or Banda Aceh in their keyword search system.

        I also notice that most cities in the US other then Washington and New York seem to almost never show up - could it be that their "selecti
        • In reference to my own comment about their keyword search system I find it amazing that they lack Banda Aceh and yet have Srinagar from just a few days ago. I would have thought they would have had neither or both. I wonder what their keyword criteria is?

          http://www.buzztracker.org/2005/04/07/Srinagar.h tm l

  • by ShaniaTwain (197446) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:42PM (#12206268) Homepage
    ..no, literally. its made up of old news..
  • by CSMastermind (847625) <freight_train10@hotmail.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:43PM (#12206280)
    Well when you think about it aren't those the exact places you'd expect to be hotspots?
    • by alphan (774661) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:02PM (#12206450) Homepage
      Well when you think about it aren't those the exact places you'd expect to be hotspots?

      It is good that you could expect that. For me, there are a lot of different factors that add to complexity. Neutrality of Google being one, the fact that Google News is in English being another.

      • by jonno317 (807642) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:38PM (#12206733)
        Well, actually if you look at the bottom of google news you'll notice that it's in 21 languages other than English (counting Canadian English, Australian English, and the like as separate languages...so maybe a few less than that technically). But I'd say that Google is in enough other major languages to not be considered biased (at least as far as languages are concerned). If buzztracker.org is biased toward English, then I would say it's because of their choices and no fault of Google.
    • It might help our geography-challenged friends over the Atlantic learn where a few places are too. :)
  • That's cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Red Moose (31712) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:44PM (#12206291)
    That is finally some news for nerds. About fucking time.

    What a cool site, and it works very quickly and is not overflowing with advertising crap?

  • by MisterLawyer (770687) <mikelawyerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:44PM (#12206292)
    I should start a website, beertracker.org, to keep track of my daily buzz.
  • virtual sightseeing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tedtimmons (97599) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:45PM (#12206305) Homepage
    not news (pun intended), but here is a compilation of neat google maps I've been collecting:

    http://perljam.net/notes/interesting-google-satell ite-maps/ [perljam.net]

    -ted

  • by G4from128k (686170) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:46PM (#12206311)
    I've noticed an upsurge in "Living Willing" spam since the Terry Schiavo story and even a few Pope-related offers.
    • You mean "t3h LIVi/\/g W1LlZoRz" and "OMG G3T 4 l33t POp3 P0STAR STRAlT FOrM t3h V4tIc4N!!1"? I feel your pain too. I ought to build a "spamtrac" program or something, but my current account *crosses fingers* gets absolutely none. Thank God.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:46PM (#12206314)
    It looks like the code needs a bit more tuning. http://www.buzztracker.org/index.html lists Nelson, NZ, as one of the hot spots. Clicking on that lists a bunch of articles about apartheid. I think the site code misinterpreted a reference to Nelson Mandela in one of the articles.
    • Also, Nelson is probably one of the least newsworthy places on the planet.

      It however, it quiet, has stunning weather, awesome beaches, friendly hippy locals. Many nice holidays spent in and around Nelson :-)
  • Does Google mind? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IBeatUpNerds (827376) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:46PM (#12206316)
    I remember about a year ago or so, there was a guy who was mining google news to produce an RSS feed. IIRC, google politely demanded that individual stop offering this to people. I can't find the article to cite this, maybe someone can help? At any rate, I wonder how google will feel about this.
  • by Fyz (581804) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:46PM (#12206319)
    1. Map out the world in x and y coordinates.
    2. Feed google buzz data into huge neural network.
    3. Predict location and magnitude of future events.
    4. ???
    5. Profit!
    • 4 = Sell your business and services to Google.

      New, much better business model than the old one of sell your business to M$ or Intel. Why better business model? Who would you rather work for?
    • by Ingolfke (515826) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:24PM (#12206601) Journal
      I actually spent the last 3 months of my life writing something very similar to this for my PhD thesis. My work was slightly different then what you explained though. Basically I take the Google data, use it to prime the network, and then feed in historical data from a particular news site into the neural network. The app processes the data, and predicts which news events the news site will report on in the coming days. I've run this application against Slashdot, since such a wide range of topics are reported on here, and have found that the application can guess 7 stories from the next day 87% of the time. I didn't have nearly this much success with other news sites, so I decided to figure out why I was so successful. I found that the nueral network was simply reporting on news events that happened more than 3 weeks ago, contained words like 'Star Wars', would search for anything about Google and then would add the question "Are they becoming evil?", would take all Microsoft and EFF press releases, and somehow managed to pull every 17th email from Linus Torvald's inbox, would repost every 19th article, and would occasionally take a story about someone being prosecuted and insert "Your right online" in front of the original news source's title. Unfortunately for me, the nueral network seemed to learn too much from Google and now requires that I become a member of its club before I can see any more future stories.
  • BuzzTracker? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Storlek (860226) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:50PM (#12206354)
    Apparently they didn't Google their own name, or else they would've noticed the name was already in use for a fairly popular music composition program [buzzmachines.com].
  • by 14erCleaner (745600) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:53PM (#12206385) Homepage Journal
    Googling mapping news

    New Google mappings

    Goo mapping news

    Mapping new Googles

    New mapping goggles

  • Animations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doctor O (549663) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:53PM (#12206387) Homepage Journal
    Now, take the data and put up some nice animations, archive the first 100 articles or so and put it into some nice database to mine for interesting stuff. Should not be too hard to script together the data gathering, you can already start fetching stuff while developing the functionality and frontend.

    Someone wanna join? This cries 'distributed database'... ;)
    • Re:Animations (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jmc (4639) *
      Now, take the data and put up some nice animations...

      Indeed, I see lots of interesting possibilities for mapping and animating data like this on the web.

      In fact, after the last election I had a nifty idea to create some sort of animated map of the US showing how political affiliations have geographically shifted over the years (primarily, the North slowly turning blue and the South slowly turning red). Then I started to think about extending that to a generic web app to display and animate various dem
      • Re:Animations (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chuq (8564)
        In fact, after the last election I had a nifty idea to create some sort of animated map of the US showing how political affiliations have geographically shifted over the years (primarily, the North slowly turning blue and the South slowly turning red). Then I started to think about extending that to a generic web app to display and animate various demographic data. Basically, a very dumbed down and animated online GIS.

        This sounds like it would be most easily done with a Worldwind [nasa.gov] Add-on [nasa.gov]!
      • A few years back, I was surprised to learn that CNN Europe provides different content (on the same stories) than CNN USA. This got me thinking along similar lines.

        Provided one could get special permission (GoogleNews' TOU), it would be fairly simple to map the appearance of stories by time and place.

        It would also be fairly simple to run word and phrase concordances on the ledes (which Google includes) to check for wire reports or topic changes.

        I've done this mechanically (unlikely to hit Google's radar)
    • Well, the first 12 days anyhow.

      Quick 'n' dirty animated GIF:)

      http://www.cybertects.co.uk/scirocco/fun/news.gif [cybertects.co.uk]
  • That's BS! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fyz (581804) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:54PM (#12206395)
    It's just a screenshot from the NORAD command center!
  • Animation? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by femto (459605)
    It would be really cool to see an animation of the map over time, to see how world attention 'sloshes' around. Even better if it was combined with a ticker showing which significant world event corresponds to each burst of activity.
  • This is pretty nifty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aftk2 (556992) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:57PM (#12206414) Homepage Journal
    While mapping the news activity over the whole world is certainly cool, I can see this having an even greater effect when applied to a smaller area. For example, if you're moving somewhere, you could easily see crime news applied to the particular region. It doesn't have all have to be depressing news, either: you could use such a "buzz" indication to find out information like the following:
    • find where there are lots of new jobs being generated
    • view up-and-coming areas by their positive "buzz" (new creative hot spots, architecture, etc...)
    • find areas of town with great new restaurants
    I think this is where it starts to get exciting (and more useful). Mapping Google news? Meh. Mapping the northwest, and giving that information to Citysearch? You betcha.
    • Read news? (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by DragonHawk (21256)
      This is technically off-topic, I suppose, but I can't think of any other place to post this, and it's kinda related. Moderators can make the final decision, I suppose.

      Anyway: I stumbled across a weird Google behavior the other day. If you do a regular Google for "read news" you get some weird results at the top of the results page:

      Read on
      News: 4
      According to http://www.esp-software.com/index.php?option=conte nt&task=view&id=3&Itemid=1 - More sources &#187;

      Try it: http://www.google.com/ [google.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Some of the smaller map points are a bit broken.

    There's a bunch of articles linked from a clickable hotspot in Nelson, a small-ish city in the South Island of New Zealand. They're all about people with a surname of "Nelson", as far as I can tell, nothing to do with the geographical aspect.
  • Through With Buzz (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday April 11, 2005 @06:58PM (#12206424) Homepage Journal
    The big circle in the US is called "Washington", which is rated at 03%. It obscures "New York" in the GUI. Boston is available, and the only other US buzz is Grand Rapids, apparently on the strength of a local paper's report 2 days ago of a resident killed in Cairo. I find all that hard to believe, or at least to make into any sense. The GUI is unusable, and the mapping of data to "reality" defies sensibility. I think the buzz has gone to their heads, and they should put the pipe down quick.
  • How are they parsing google news content? Google news does not yet offer an API, correct? What are they doing, screen scraping? You can only query google programmatically about 1000 times a day, I think.

    I wish I had more details...

    And this is a REALLY stupid aspect to tackle--connections between cities.
    THe real cheese would seem to be in word counts, and connections between words--like "economy" and "recession", etc.

  • by terraformer (617565) <tpb@pervici.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:03PM (#12206454) Journal
    That being one level of hierarchy to display complex data. China (Top with .09%) is top dog because all international press refer to china as a whole and fails to reference individual places in china (ie; Guangdong Province) despite the sheer size of the country. Therefore, China is over represented when looking at news. However, in the case of Gaza (the second highest at .08%), the exact opposite occurs where Gaza steals all of the thunder from the larger Palestinian issue (Gaza is one of two territories in question and is not in Palestine, the place where all of the problems in the middle east originates from).

    If, they represented this in hierarchical format, the middle east would dominate by picking up points from children Gaza, West Bank and Palestine (not to mention Iraq). Baghdad is probably a good example here. How much actually happens in areas outside of Baghdad proper but gets labled baghdad anyhow.

  • Why do we need this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by A Sea and Cake (874933) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:10PM (#12206497)
    Why do we need this?

    A map that showed where the stories getting the least attention that contained certain keywords - famine, Schiavo, wobbegong, whatever - came from would strike me as more interesting.

    We already know where the stories indicated by this map are coming from, because they're taking up ridiculous amounts of space on the front pages of newspapers everywhere.
    • We already know where the stories indicated by this map are coming from, because they're taking up ridiculous amounts of space on the front pages of newspapers everywhere.

      Exactly. If it hadn't been for the Tsunami, would we have seen as many stories from adjacent countries, for example?

      Just because it's not reported, doesn't make it not news. It's just that our filters screen out things that aren't the latest thing.
  • I'd like to see keywords mapped, especially the word "breakthrough," which I look up on Google News when I'm bored.
    • Yes, since Google lets you pick search terms, it would be a relativel trivial to write an interface that presents the results geographically or through time (animation?).

      One of the biggest limitations with GoogleNews is that they only cache the stories for 30 days. I'd love to be able to track stories like Bush's Social Insecurity agenda, then cross-reference it with things like media ownership, demographics (e.g., age, employment), and voter rolls.
  • this site [privateradio.org] shows what sources google has linked to from the past few weeks
  • I started to play around with morphing each of the days images into the next. I'll spend more time away from work trying to get that to work. The effect for the month of April was interesting. Now to watch it for the full year, that would be very cool.

    Ted
  • by doom (14564) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:18PM (#12206537) Homepage Journal
    What I like about google news is that it's an incredibly easy way of keeping an eye on what has been called the "pack journalism" problem. Just as an example, trying doing a google news search on "Count Every Vote Act": that's consistently turned up less than 100 hits since it was announced. Is there some reason it's not newsworthy? Similarly, when the Ohio recount thing was going down last year, it took *forever* for it to punch through as a top-level story. Evidentally the pattern is something like a story is dead until the AP Wire runs it, and then a thousand other news "sources" pick it up.

    I've had the thought that it might be cool to implement an anti-news site that would do something like show you links to New York Times stories that have never been referenced by the top page of Google News.

  • One glance at the map shows dramatically how irrelevant Russia is becoming to the rest of the world. How often would such a map have bypassed Moscow entirely during the Soviet era?
  • Say what you want, but it's interesting to note that the current buzzspots are aligned exactly along the main East-West axis in Eurasia (from China to Europe) as indicated by Jared Diamond [wikipedia.org] in Guns, Germs and Steel [wikipedia.org].
  • How long until... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:25PM (#12206611) Homepage
    How long until Google invites the creators to join the team for coming up with such a great idea? Or failing that, aquire the rights to the concept and implement it.

    Google have a habit of doing great things with software they get hold of, can't wait to see what they do with this.
  • by digital bath (650895) on Monday April 11, 2005 @07:30PM (#12206643) Homepage
    www.paulrademacher.com/housing [paulrademacher.com]

    A cool combination of Craigslist housing listing and Google maps. Seems to be very well done.
  • Animate it! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by elambi (251600)
    It would be interesting to watch an animation of where the Buzz is over a period of time.
  • ... must be right about where the servers for buzztracker.org are located.
  • http://www.marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/newsmap.cfm [marumushi.com] has an interactive almost-realtime flash map of google news.

    News are shown as rectangles, color coded by topic, size-coded by the importance (number of related news), etc. And you can back track topics by time, you can see a topic grow as news spread and shrink as people stop writing about it. Best viewed on huge screens.
  • I'm surprised no one has mentioned the "News Map":
    http://www.marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/newsm ap.cfm

    It's very cool. Not a geographical map, but a spatial one, with quantity of stories being graphically displayed with size.
  • Inaccurate data!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This map isn't accurate. You're not reporting on the news. You're reporting on what made headlines. There's a big, big difference.

    More people are murdered in Detroit than in than in Baghdad or the surrounding area.

    More Americans are kidnapped in Mexico in 3 days than in Iraq in a months' time.

    Isn't Mexico supposed to be a friendly country?

    Why does the press ONLY focus on Iraq?

    Clinton sent us into Bosnia. In fact, we're still there, and the only improvement was the arrest of Milosevic. Since
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Holy crap, that's got to be a troll.

      Who the hell modded this up?

      More people murdered in Detroit? How'd you work that out? By re-defining "murder" as "killing an American"? In the absence of such nicities as a functioning state apperatus and a properly organised statistics gathering agency (which I seriously doubt the Iraqis have got around to, given the state of security in the country in general) it's kind of hard to compare. Have you been counting? In a country where unemployment figures are a gues
    • i doubt that all the press takes their lead from NYT. what about the Washington Post ? or newsweek ? or the economist ? i agree that the press is biased, but that's the nature of the beast: humans write the news, humans have bias, therefore the news is probably biased. it's not that we need an unbiased news source, more people need to be aware when a news report seems to only tell one side of a story fairly. also, since most of the media in the US seems to be controlled by a handful of people, i think it'
    • You're right, of course. But think of this project as a Proof of Concept. Think of how useful it could be with some methodological innovations:

      * user-generated search terms (rather than story volume)
      * text mining (e.g., concordance) to track wire reports
      * cross-reference with media ownership, demographics, voter registrations, etc.

      I'd LOVE to be able to definitively demonstrate any differences between Murdock, ClearChannel, etal. and locally owned media.
  • Newsmap (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Some of you may find this [open-news.net] interesting
  • where is florida??

    last few months have been the terri schiavo case in all the headline news and even more so blogs.

    hmm.. a blog map, now that would be interesting!

  • by Comster (615942)
    Nice try but the site really doesn't show anything which does any good.
  • Notice the weeks before the November U.S. presidential election. I think it's obvious what the world press wanted people to focus on. The heaviest coverage of Iraq took place in the weeks before and during the presidential election. Of course Iraq is the biggest story in the world for the past 2 years, but the fequency was much much higher during our presidential elections.
  • I disagree with one poster, who claimed that there are more murders in Detroit than Baghdad.

    On the other hand, this *does* only map headlines. Two weeks ago, a completely idiotic media frenzy evoked by the US adminstration and the Republicans would have made Pinellas Pk, FL hotter than Iraq, Washington, D.C., or the Vatican. (Terry Schaivo).

    You'd need to correlate this in time (has this been in the news in the last (curve) year (or whatever), and weight it with population (are there 15 people in 200 km,
  • Just run this perl-script. Point the output to a file, say a and then execute it.

    Then you can have an animation of where the buzz is by using your favourite slide-show-creator.

    #!/usr/bin/perl -w
    for(2004...2005) {
    $year = $_;
    for(1...12) {
    $month = $_;
    $month = "0"x(2-length($month)) . $month;
    for(1 ... 31) {
    $day = "0"x(2-length($_)) . $_;
    print "curl -O http://www.buzztracker.org/$year/";
    print "$month/$day/${year}-$month-${day}_large.png\n";
    }
    }
    }

    The junkfilter says th

  • Looking back in the archives, I can't possibly believe that the asian tsunami didn't show up in the top three categories in late December 2004-January 2005.

    Tracking the *datelines* of the articles is a lousy way to track what the article is about, and it seems like that might be what they did. There weren't many reporters on the ground in Aceh province...

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