Google News was born in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. An unprecedented act of terrorism on U.S. soil, by a foreign militant group led by Osama Bin Laden, changed the course of history. People around the world were trying to comprehend what had just happened, and its implications to public safety, foreign policy, financial markets, and their own lives. Much of that exploration happened online.
At Google we realized that our ability to display links to the freshest and most relevant news was limited by a fundamental problem: fresh news lacked hyperlinks. Google’s ranking depended on links from other authors on the web. Fresh news, by definition, was too fresh to accumulate such links. A new importance signal was needed.
I realized that if Google could compute how many news sources were covering the underlying story at a given point in time, we could then estimate how important the story was. Thus, “Storyrank” was invented. This insight led to a ranking that combined the editorial wisdom of many editors on the web in real time. In addition to making search better it led to Google News – a display of stories in the news ranked automatically by an algorithm. This also allowed us to group news articles by story, thus providing visual structure and giving users access to diverse perspectives from around the world in one place.
After 10 years Mr. Bin Laden is in the news again.
Continue reading on the Google News blog.
This article originally appeared in Google News.