Monday, March 8, 2010

Google Filling Print Media Voids on the Internet

For about six months, I've set up my computer so that if I want privacy I have to log out - I'm always on. It's my way of knowing what Google knows about me, and at the same time I'm entering the brave new world of temporal geo-location. As a result search results will begin to more and more reflect what I do on the web and where I am. A simulation of how search sees mobile web applications.

Recently I've been trying to find lists of local, easy to read movie times and locations online. A rather frustrating hour or so of wading through irrelevant content has given Google plenty of data. I'm going out to the movies later this week - but I've cut myself off from popular media - so I can't remember the name of the film everyones talking about.

So, today I twigged on an interesting Tweet from @dbarefoot:

I highlighted The Hurt Locker and clicked 'Search Google'. Google knows where I live, the day, time and my search history, so I wasn't surprised when this result up came number one:

These two theatres are equal-distant from my home and while that's cool, what blew me away was that the search result isn't a search result - it's an application, a widget. If you look closely, it's not a link - it's a tailored information portal offering the movies title, a link to the trailer, run time, genre, language and the name of the theatre where it's playing near me.

Similar to the widget above, if you search '' for example, you can watch that users live feed in a Google search page.

For another example of this new Google content aggregation, search weather + (your town):

Also, if your looking for the definition of a word or synonyms, Search Google and add 'definition' - for example, definition + definition:

Click on the 'Web definition for definition' link and Google has a "web mention" aggregation list (like the new 'word place' website

These are examples of how Google is aggregating information, much like newspapers used to do, and still can in their web versions.

Legacy print and broadcast producers have not done well evolving from analog to digital. Perhaps the producers success in shutting down Napster has put off a change that was coming anyways, they're lack of adaptability now I think is partly due to their concentration on trying to stop histories inertia. That and the four centuries of the development of print media, it's importance as the forth estate an essential function in the democratic enterprise.

Added to that now, is the fundamental way corporate advertising ties all media together; change must take place simultaneously across several cultural cannons to enable change in any one of print, broadcast and advertising.

Going to the Movies

An enlightening journey is my recent quest to find lists of local, easy to read movie times and locations online, a aggregation fulfilled really well by print newspapers with their columns format.

In the old days if you wanted to go out to the movies, first you'd grab todays newspaper from the coffee table in the living room and check the listings in the entertainment section.

Now a days you push the 'ON' button on the monitor.

Until Google rolled out these new widgets finding a Cinema listing for your local area on the world wide web is a screen glow headache. You'd think that in the brave new world of the internet, the people who have been bringing us 'all the news that's fit to print' would be all over inventing new ways to present their plethora of content. This is just starting to happen driven mainly by new blogging applications like Ning.

In earlier searches for lists of local, easy to read movie times and locations online I had a heck of a time. First I tried the movies title - nope - that gets you the producers site, the distributors site, P2P file sharing, Paparazzi Glam sites and Porn Movie take offs of the films title.

Hmm... So I try a Brand Name theatre chain - that should work - nope. I got either a Web 1.0 Corporate website with static links to a hedge fund - or a site that is more concerned with creating brand than it is with supplying people with street addresses and show times.

I was giving up on the internet and getting ready to go out and buy a newspaper when I remembered the great Free Entertainment paper Now Magazine - the goto for entertainment listings of all kinds in Toronto.

Were they online??? YES!

I wasn't easy, but eventually I found lists of local, easy to read movie times and locations tucked away in the sidebar in the Movies Tab of - in a neat scrolling window that shows all the films showing in Toronto with Tabs for Title, Theatre, Location - and my favourite, Repertory Cinemas listings.

Now Magazine's Movies Tab's "Movie Times and Mini Reviews" Scrolling Widget.

This is one good example of how newspaper column content is going to look tomorrow. Column Inches scroll down. Subject headings appear in Tabs across the top. Tabs over those tabs could define Sections of a digital newspaper of the future.

It's not the Rosetta stone but it describes a way of thinking, towards a solution.

I'm sure the editors of Now Magazine know that movie, concert, bar and live theatre listings are a Brand they should be accenting - but they haven't quite executed the meme online. Now Magazine's "Movie Times and Mini Reviews" widget needs to get out of the sidebar, have it's own URL and title tag - and perhaps get bigged up on it's own page - so that it will be read by Bots and listed in Search.


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