In Oct 2002, I saw Google News Beta and being an RSS junkie thought "I want some of that". I emailed news-feedback asking for RSS Output and got no reaction. So I hacked, cut and pasted some scraping code and produced gnews2rss.php and started using it to feed my personal aggregator. I made the source public domain and encouraged people to use it, host it themselves and hack it on further. I got really burnt on bandwidth costs by doing the same thing for blogger before they had RSS, so twice a month I insert a dummy item telling people to host it themselves and to email Google asking for RSS from News. About 6 months ago I started including gnews2rss feeds in Ecademy and waited for the Google complaint. It's finally arrived so the feeds have gone from Ecademy. Google have never asked me to remove gnews2rss, only to stop republishing the data on the web.

Now, Google is heading into an IPO and needs to be seen to enforce their T&Cs. I have no problem with that. I was playing fast and loose with their terms and now I've had my knuckles rapped.

But the underlying problems remain.
- No Ads on Google News. So what's the problem?
- Google News still in beta. Why?
- Google API is unchanged since launch and still only covers the main search. Where's the API for images, news, groups, froogle?
- No metadata or XML/RDF output from any of their systems apart from Blogger. And when the Blogger people finally do syndication (now that Google has removed the bandwidth objection) the Blogger people choose Atom.

Why? Is it just lack of programming resource? Perhaps the people who might spend their 20% private programming time on this aren't interested in metadata?

Meanwhile Yahoo has the MyYahoo aggregator and RSS from news search. So I've just switched to Yahoo! news for the websites. Right now though, Google news search is still superior so for my own personal use I continue to use gnews2rss.

So instead of (or as well as) arguing here, can I ask you all to email Google news feedback and ask for RSS/Atom output? The API was a great start and won them a lot of geekie kudos. But they've dropped the ball.

Yahoo! has pretty much everything now that Google has and in some cases more. It's just that the quality is not quite as good. That's a pretty slim margin for Google to base themselves on.

This story has been covered here.

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[ 05-Apr-04 10:20am ]