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The Media GUI Google Technology

Google Wants To Ease News Browsing With Fast Flip 125

Posted by timothy
from the see-page-17-for-details dept.
CWmike writes "Google is developing a product called Fast Flip that aims to make it simpler and faster to browse through news articles on the Web, a process the company says is cumbersome and discourages people from reading more online. Fast Flip, which lets readers glance at pages and browse through them quickly without having to wait for multiple page elements to load, was expected to go live late Monday at the Google Labs Web site. The idea is to try to replicate online the ease with which people flip through the pages of print magazines and newspapers in the offline world. This could motivate people to read more online, which Google argues will help publishers attract more readers and increase their revenue. However, when users click on a Fast Flip link, they will be taken to the corresponding publisher's Web site, where the Google technology will not be on hand to display the page more quickly."
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Google Wants To Ease News Browsing With Fast Flip

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  • Fast flip? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 (222219) on Monday September 14, 2009 @10:01PM (#29422005)

    How about just putting less crap on news pages so they load quickly?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can't imagine how folks with dialup can manage anymore. There is so much cruft on most pages, lately, that it is even hosing my high speed cable. Thank you /. for keeping it simple.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Personally, when I'm using a dial up connection (like on the island I vacation on) I deliberately load up the mobile versions. They look awkward, but they load like I've got a broadband connection.

        • Uh.. how? mobile.slashdot.org for instance justs gets you to a full-graphics page about cell phones...

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        Lynx or links.

    • Re:Fast flip? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by T Murphy (1054674) on Monday September 14, 2009 @11:01PM (#29422333) Journal
      How about just putting more news on those crap pages so they read better?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CityZen (464761)

      That's exactly what I thought. Only problem is that most of that crap is advertising, which is presumably what brings in the money.

      I can hear the complaints already: Google is providing yet another way to cut off our revenue stream!

      I just tend to avoid news sites that don't present me with a list of summaries I can view before deciding to hit the article itself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TiggsPanther (611974)

        Most of the crap wouldn't be so bad, only most ad-supported pages block on the main content until the adverts are loaded. And, personally, if it takes longer to load the ads than the content then I quickly read the content, ignore the ads more than ever, and mentally blacklist the site for a while.

        This can be annoying in and of itself but it becomes worse if you're on a bad connection or if, perish the thought, the ad-server slows down.
        I've had these before. In one case, the link was s slow somewhere on th

    • by g253 (855070)
      That's true, but you can do both. Gmail, for instance, is a remarkably lightweight and cruft-free page, but I've found the new labs feature that lets you view a simplified version of it while it loads to be very useful.
  • by mantis2009 (1557343) on Monday September 14, 2009 @10:05PM (#29422033)
    This article and summary missed the most important part of the story. Or, in journalism jargon, they blew the lede. Google plans to make Fast Flip a new platform for subscription-based news reading. You pay Google a tiny amount (say $.05) for every article that you want to read. Google keeps 30% of that amount, and the remaining 70% goes to the news organization that published the story. This way, Google thinks, people will pay for news stories again. Because the cost to the reader will be very low, and less of an up-front than a $15.00 per month newspaper subscription. And, you need to only pay one organization for all the news that you can consume: Google.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jeeeb (1141117)
      People have never really paid for news stories. You think $15 could possibly cover the costs of printing and delivering a months worth of papers? Advertising always paid for the content, which in the endless search for neutrality to avoid losing any ad-viewers (Erm, readers...) has helped drive the quality to zero.

      Of course that said it would be nice to see this create actual incentives for news organisations to create good quality content in a much more competitive environment. Since, I doubt they'll ev
      • While advertising always paid for the content, the biggest cost was distribution. Your right, the $15 didn't cover the cost of printing and distributing those huge stacks of paper in a month.

        However, with this new arrangement, their largest costs, the actual printing and distribution, are gone. The internet (and Google) allow them to go from 100,000 subscribers to 4million subscribers overnight, with just about nothing in extra costs. For every 1,000,000 article reads at a nickel each, your talking about
        • by Jeeeb (1141117)
          I mean they'll have to put more effort into getting those article reads. With newspapers they could just stick generic content up and be done with it. Now people can be selective and generic content won't get anywhere near the 1,000,000 views or whatever they might wish.
      • ...Advertising always paid for the content, which in the endless search for neutrality to avoid losing any ad-viewers (Erm, readers...) has helped drive the quality to zero.

        Newspapers are neutral? That's news to me! I'd bet it's also news to the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. My local paper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has been putting leaning articles into its paper for years and have passed it off as objective. Its left-leaning, and it's been losing market share. I doubt it's because it's not left-leaning enough.

        • by Jeeeb (1141117)
          Of course genericness isn't a global rule. The Wall Street Journal especially is specialised for a specific readership. The market is big enough that it can accommodate papers targeted at specific audiences or trying to grab attention through attention grabbing shock headlines.

          However, The average daily newspapers column is often little more than a republication of whatever has been in the news the previous evening, generally drawn from the same AP/Reuters/... news feed. It's the news... but late and cov
    • Wow - that is important then. I wondered how the publishing companies were going to make people pay for their content if they hid it behind a barrier. Micropayments don't work if everyone has to do them seperately on every single site and every single time you want to pay for content - you need a one click payment system. Google can provide that, because they are large and they are trusted. Moreover this gets around the issue that Publishers had that users won't be able to find their content - they'll st
    • by shimage (954282)
      That is not how I had it explained to me. The Economist [economist.com] made it sound like Google was going to manage it like a cable TV provider. You pay Google a nominal subscription fee (say, $15/month), and they let you read anything to which they have access. The blog mentioned that they would allow for micropayments on top of that, but the money would primarily be in the form of a subscription service.
    • by defaria (741527)
      What the fuck are you talking about?!? No where in the article did it say that Google plans on charging anything. Stop making up FUD.
  • 'Kind of sad to have to try "fostering" the act of reading. I say let them in the dark.

  • by glitch23 (557124) on Monday September 14, 2009 @10:13PM (#29422083)
    is not only the number of elements on a page but the type of data that constitute those elements as well as the virtual location of them. With ads being more bloated as time goes on and various Java/Flash components being added to webpages over time webpages in general tend to load slower. Of course utilizing a high-speed connection and using a fast PC helps mitigate that problem. One thing that annoys me is when the ads have to be served from external links and those links don't work. I'm thinking the google analytics content and the atdmt.com (I believe that's the domain) ads. It might help to not have content spread over multiple pages as well, which of course is only performed to increase the ad exposure for the readers.
    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:09AM (#29422663)

      One thing that annoys me is when the ads have to be served from external links and those links don't work.

      This happens because ad serving companies are cheap. Too cheap in fact to pay for servers and bandwidth to actually serve ads quickly. So instead they let their low end servers strain under crushing loads 24/7 hovering just on the edge of crashing because wasting your time costs them nothing. Yet another reason to use Ad Block Plus [mozilla.org]. Go ahead, use the nuclear option; the ad companies don't give a shit about you so why should you give a shit about them?

      • by cheekyboy (598084)

        If they are that much on the margin, then it wouldnt take much to really break them and NOT work at all, giving them zero revenue for a day.

        • In a game were serving ads nets fractions of a penny, they will run as close to the margins as they can rather than paying for better servers or even more for extra bandwidth. Its a money game for the ad servers, plain and simple, and wasting your time doesn't cost them anything (at least not on the order of seconds). As long as the ad gets served within 30 seconds or so most users will continue to put up with them because they don't know about adblock. We who can should simply refuse to play their game.
    • by bit01 (644603)

      over time webpages in general tend to load slower.

      Not just load slower but read slower. Advertising has a very real cognitive cost associated with them that advertisers like to pretend doesn't exist. And that cost is now getting ridiculous.

      ---

      Ad's devalue other ad's.

    • by xtracto (837672)

      not only the number of elements on a page but the type of data that constitute those elements as well as the virtual location of them. With ads being more bloated as time goes on and various Java/Flash components being added to webpages over time webpages in general tend to load slower.

      All that is completely irrelevant once you block the bloat elements (flash, ads, etc). And, it seems even in this new service they are still a problem:
      Take this story [googlelabs.com]. Looking at it (after disabling Ad-block) shows two ads, and an incomplete article.

      Once you press the link, you get into this page [nationalreview.com] which shows the complete article infested with blinking and moving ad-banners.

      I have been using Adblock Plus since maybe 5 years (used Adblock before), and nowadays I cannot stand browsing the internet in its "nati

    • I'm thinking the google analytics content

      You've discovered Google's devious plan: -

      1. make the entire web really slow.
      2. make the web really fast again!!! (if you pay us)
      3. ...
      4. profit!

  • ...and newsprint is dead (assuming of course newspapers keep up with archaic 20th century technology like the "internets").

  • I just had a look, they say you dont hav to wait for pages to load..!!! crap, this is more painfull.. you hav to wait for "images" to load..as we are in a part of world where internet is still too damn slow, its of very less use.. also put some ad blockers and turn of styles ur page loads lightning fast..!! y use this one..!
  • This is why I like reading usenet and mail in an offline reader - just press the space bar or an arrow key and the next page/article *instantly* appears on the screen.

    There are existing web page pre-fetch/pre-cache systems that work similarly to the system the article describes - if only they were combined with simple keyboard navigation....
    • by shird (566377)

      Google reader has "J" and "K" keyboard navigation to go the the next/prev article.

      In fact, most online RSS aggregators have keyboard navigation. This is not quite the same as what google flip is however. Being able to see images, page layout and headlines combined on a page and the next/previous pages just out of the corner of your eye is closer to reading a real magazine.

  • Years after producing a crappy UI for Google Groups, which was worse than the threaded text-based readers most people read Usenet with, Google finally gets a clue? Say it isn't so!

    • by Chelloveck (14643)

      Nope, no such luck. This has got to be the lamest thing I've ever seen come out of Google. The "fast flip" is just a bunch of screen shots of articles from various sites. Imagine that someone went to, say, Slashdot, clicked on an article, and took a screen shot of the browser window. Repeat for each article. Then they arranged them all with previous/next buttons to "fast flip" from one to another. That's exactly what Google has done here. Just a bunch of static PNGs. Color me unimpressed.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday September 14, 2009 @10:24PM (#29422161)
    I use w3m for fastflipping. It's a text browser, so it doesn't load hundreds of kb worth of images and advertisements for each page, while still showing the text in a form that's close to the graphical layout. Also, it never loads javascript include files, which tend to slow down page flipping a lot, and never crashes due to embedded flash objects.

    Basically, it lets you flip pages on the web as fast as is physically possible and... Oops, look at the time, gotta go!

    • I can't help but read "Don't text me bro [namazu.org]" in the title of that webpage.
    • I bet there's a Firefox extension for that. Opera can do user stylesheets and disabling scripts/images with one key anyway.

      So you can still use all the extensions and features that you still might need. (Or are you one of those that would prefer surfing trough emacs as a combined telnet and OS shell? ^^

  • With a fun extension called AutoPager.
    http://www.teesoft.info/content/view/47/49/ [teesoft.info]
    "automatically loads the next page of a site inline (merging) when you reach the end of the current page for infinite scrolling of content. "
    You can also make it work on any new site after a few clicks.
  • How is this fast? It's loading super slow with all these retarded images. It'd be nice to choose a category and see the top headlines without the images.
    This isn't that fast at all. I agree with offline readers as well, it helps when the net isn't working. Oh well.
    This wasn't that good of news to me.
    • by Tacvek (948259)

      For me with a broadband connection the images load really quickly, and I can easily quickly flip through 100 articles in a minute, opening all the interesting ones in new tabs to read. In that period of time, I could only load say 20 article pages the normal way to decide if they are worth reading.

  • Cooliris' built-in news image search is a pretty cool step towards quick browsing. Scrolling through 50 pictures in the sports section, I click on a picture of Serena Williams and the news story associated with it surrounds it. Awesome add-on for firefox and people oooh and ahhh when I pop it up on-screen.

  • Holy cow I just had an idea! What if we made a way for news agencies to post little "abstracts" of their articles in one central "page" Then we could link these abstracts to a full-fledged article. This way, people could browse all of the articles at once. No more flipping pages looking for flipping articles.

    Genius Google, pure GENIUS!
  • Personal preference (Score:3, Informative)

    by SheeEttin (899897) <sheeettin@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:16AM (#29422697) Homepage
    Personally, I prefer COMPLETE BULLSHIT [datafall.org]

    (Reference [mspaintadventures.com], for those who don't read MS Paint Adventures. You should.)
    • by kwerle (39371)

      Personally, I prefer COMPLETE BULLSHIT [datafall.org]

      That is totally whack.

      And kinda cool. What is it?

    • That thing is really badly designed. I mean the page-flipping idea is kinda OK. But it's
      1. Slow as hell. It usually lags and slips way past what you pointed the mouse at.
      2. Has very buggy styles. The text is cut off at the borders.
      3. Does not use any usability knowledge.
      a) Lacks headlines in the boxes.
      b) Lacks lead-in sentences/paragraphs.
      c) Lacks an acceptable font.
      d) The images get cut off. Mostly in a manner that make

    • by rwv (1636355)

      The Complete Bullshit News Aggregation page, despite obvious flaws in it's name and rainbow design has implemented a remarkably innovative news reader design. If they could figure out some way to let me personalize the reader to filter only the types of stories that I care about (like how newspapers have a Sports section, an Arts and Entertainment section, a Business section, and then a whole bunch of other sections I throw away because I don't care about them) then something like this could catch on.

      Hel

  • Too many newspapers and other news sites split articles into a bunch of pages. It takes time to get the next page to load. Some of them use standard hyperlinks for the next page and put it at the top of the page. On those sites, I can click with the middle button and have the page pre-loading in the next tab. Then which I get done reading this page, I click the tab for the next page, click with middle button for the 3rd page to start pre-loading that one, and proceed to read the 2nd page. Rinse, lather

    • But this is a micro payment thing. Effectively paying the news provider to take out the adverts.

      • by Skapare (16644)

        If they are going to want payments, they are going to have to figure out a reliable, safe, and non-abusable, payment system. Credit cards and PayPal don't cut it.

  • That is all. [googlelabs.com]

  • I think it's very annoying when you read the first page on Google Fast Flip, and you click through to the publisher's site, you're back at the top of the article. So you have to search the page to find which part you already read, and where to continue reading. Seems definitely not quicker to me...

  • Slashdot overloaded with quality posts because Flash Flip allows swarms of Anonymous Cowards to RTFA before posting. Consequently, each post becomes so long an thoughtful that each one becomes the size of the actual articles, but being comments rather than articles, Slashdot users won't spend the time to read them. Apocalypse.
  • What about Google Reader (or any other rss reader) in Expanded Mode? Loads the first paragraph of every story, you press "j" to flick to the next one. There's no network traffic between flicking at all, so it's basically instant (well under 100ms).

    I fail to spot the difference, apart from having to pay for the new one. I guess Google could break Reader, but that would be kind of evil.

  • I must be missing something.
    I browsed through the preloaded pages on Google; found a BBC article that looked interesting; clicked, and....then I wait for the original page to load?

    So I guess the time saved is in the previewing the pages (headlines)? If that's the goal, then RSS is a much more efficient alternative.

    • Yes, I agree, RSS does the same thing that flipping though a newspaper would do, and I think it does it better in the digital world than this fast flipping would do. We are not dealing with a physical newspaper so tools like RSS exist so that we can find those interesting articles. We don't need fast flip. Mod up the parent.
  • PROTIP: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:11AM (#29424567)

    Don't put fuckin' tiny navigational links on your sites!!
    Seriously, what is it with these retard designers who choose to make the most important UI element on the site the tiniest?
    Forums are the typical example. You got four screen pages of messages, and then on the bottom, there is a link that literally is just one character and looks like this is 8px font size: >>
    And the page numbers are just as tiny.

    The same thing is true for window managers, where the close button is a tiny dot at the edge of the window. (I removed those buttons completely and can just hold the Windows key and middle-click anywhere on a window do close it. [The left and right buttons are for movement and resizing, with the same method.])

    And of course, without an ad-blocker and with all the Flash loading, it's slow as hell. For really fast reading, I recommend using a user style sheet, and disabling all author styles and images/flash.

    • (I removed those buttons completely and can just hold the Windows key and middle-click anywhere on a window do close it. [The left and right buttons are for movement and resizing, with the same method.])

      How do you do this?

      • Many window managers on Linux allow you to do this (typically you have to open the configuration dialog or edit the configuration file). For example, I use fvwm, which is one of the more programmable ones, but YMMV.

        Most keyboards or mice have a lot of unused buttons which you can program to do a specific task such as killing/resizing/moving/tiling/etc. By using those special buttons, you don't have to hold down a modifier key if you don't like.

        Here's another fun thing to do: program one of your unused k

        • Good tips there. I had assumed you can do it in linux - what can't you do?

          What about in windows?
    • Well having a somewhat small "close" button is reasonable in the sense that it is a UI element that is less frequently used and which you don't want users to click accidentally (for many programs such a mistake is irreversible or at least annoying).

      By comparison, site navigation elements should certainly be big and easy to click on, since users will need to click on them very frequently, and there is very little cost associated with a mis-click (just use the back button and you're fine).

      By the way, yo
    • by danger42 (302987)

      For really fast reading, I recommend using a user style sheet, and disabling all author styles and images/flash.

      But what if I like to read about entertainment/fashion? 90% of the news IS the pictures.

  • I'm not sure I really get what the purpose of this is, if someone can elucidate that would be great.

    So people aren't reading enough online, fine, you want to highlight interesting content quickly for them to get to.

    I don't see how this view actually helps users identify what is worth reading and what isn't - certainly in the small view, the pages are too small to read, you just get a view on page layout and graphics, nothing about the content or the article. Even the full-size views, are screenshots of the

    • I agree. I think the page thumbnails are really just an automated way to create something like an icon or illustration next to each link. The thumbnails aren't actually useful--they are just decoration. It's not a bad way to make the accompanying article descriptions more interesting to read through. But it's silly to portray this small s/w engineering feat as some groundbreaking new way to review information.
  • If you observe closely, especially on a slow machine like the iPhone with ATT wireless, you see google displays the inner 12 squares of a map, but has the perimeter 18 squares in memory for fast panning. Similar technique for flipping. Teh previous is cached, the next few pages are pre-fetched.
  • Is it just me or is it getting harder to find interesting things to read? Fast flip / Micropayments would be fine if it weren't for my belief that constant browsing leads to decreased interest for general news.
  • I see why this story was tagged "GUI". I thought this was going to be using the same predictive model as adwords and the google news page to put related articles in a one click bar. That seems like the most natural extension of google news to me, anyway. Instead it's just a scaled down picture of the main page.
  • i was sad when i saw google fast flip so i wrote a review to explain whats wrong and some ideas on how to make it better. check it out and let me know what you think http://blog.cartercole.com/2009/09/review-of-google-fast-flip-why-i-think.html [cartercole.com]
  • A Slashdot-hosted screenshot of the article in each news story; click the screenshot and you are taken to the story.

  • lets readers glance at pages and browse through them quickly without having to wait for multiple page elements to load

    That's easy enough for them to say, with a spare copy of the Internet.

    Allegedly.

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