It is with much amusement that I watch most of the blogosphere fawn over the new Google toy, Fast Flip. There are comments about how this could save newspapers because Google is sharing revenue, comments about how this “packaging” is how news should have evolved, and other similar nonsense. What would people say if this was launched by a different group of people? For example, what would people say if I launched this service? There would be outrage. In the Google case, Duncan Riley seems to be the lone voice of dissent:
Google Fast Flip displays an ad-less snap shot of each page, which while constrained by size mostly includes the full content from each item. It works to some degree for reading, but at the same time it negates the need to click thru to the outlet hosting the content. Without the clickthru, Google’s argument about how many page views it sends through to publishers is undermined. They are ad sharing, but a single Adsense unit won’t come close to competing with display advertising on the actual source page, and that’s a risk for sites who are offering their content on the service.
So, to get back to my example, what would the complaints be about this service? First, it only includes major traditional media outlets, and TechCrunch. No other blogs make the cut, and some major newspapers are also left out. Where are the LA Times and the Boston Globe? You could also argue for papers from other major cities like Philadelphia or Chicago. Generally, the sources list leaves much to be desired even for the non-news topics.
How about the display of information? First, you need to click a thumbnail to view a particular story, and there is a headline beneath the thumbnail to help you decide. If you click the thumbnail, they display about a page worth of content from the source as an image. For some stories, this could be the entire content of the story. Then, if you want to view the source content you need to click this enlarged image. That is three clicks to get to the actual content. As far as web standards go, that is about 2 clicks too many.
In this example, the blogosphere would be tearing this service apart for stealing content, stealing revenue and generally having a half-assed launch with only a few sources. Because Google has launched the service, it could save newspapers or something like that. The blogosphere, myself included, have vilified other services for doing similar things, and sometimes even less. I must say that I am disappointed.
Ah, hypocrisy. The blogosphere knows you well.