Google's Digital News Initiative Decrypted
Another one of my articles published on Impakter - this one about a fascinating new initiative that Google has launched (for the time being) only in Europe, to support the news industry (it will probably come to America later, once it has shown it works). Also included in the initiative, a fund to finance innovation, and the closing date for applications is 11 July. Anyone thinking of applying should read this - while others may be intrigued, wondering what Google is up to...
Ever wondered about the myth of start-ups launched in a garage?
The story of Google’s founding proves that it’s not entirely a myth: the story starts in 1994 with the launch of the Digital Library Initiative (DLI) by three US government agencies, the National Science Foundation, NASA and DARPA. The aim was to promote innovation in “digital library research”, i.e. find ways to improve access and use of the information that by then was already piling up on the Web.
Among the first six winners of the new DLI awards, was a clever Web page indexing project, the brainchild of two gifted Stanford University students, Larry Paige and Sergey Brin.
The two built a prototype called BackRub based on Paige’s foundational insight that what matters in page ranking are the links between those pages because they are made by humans and therefore reflect at least some form or judgment or assessment about their use. With BackRub they tested their PageRank system, initially on 24 million pages. It was so successful that they got $1 million additional funding and by 1998, Page and Brin had moved their growing hardware facility from the Stanford campus into a friend’s garage in Menlo Park and started Google, Inc.
Over a year ago, Google took a leaf from its founding history and launched the Digital News Initiative (DNI) in Europe.
The similarities with DLI cannot be missed, they’re both “digital initiatives” with the avowed aim to support innovation with funding; and in DNI’s case, as Google puts it, to promote “high quality journalism through technology and innovation”. Awards are called “projects” and among the three types of projects financed by the DNI Fund, you have “prototype projects” going to individuals – while the other two types of “projects” are reserved to news publishers (see box for details of how the DNI funding works).