The events of September 11th changed the way Americans thought about themselves, both in terms of their safety and their role in the world. In the aftermath of that tragic attack, citizens of the U.S. became more patriotic, and more enthusiastically examined news stories and events from around the world. 9/11 caused a great many things, many of which are well known to Americans, but one of the effects of 9/11 that less are aware of is Google News.
Google News is a highly popular service for finding relevant links to news data, but it simply didn’t exist in 2001. As the boom of news-seeking searches occurred in the wake of 9/11, however, it became clear to Google staff members that the Google algorithm needed to adapt to provide the most useful links. The structure of the Google ranking system, while effective for most normal queries, shied away from newer sites naturally, thanks to the lack of hyperlinks pointing to fresh news content or other pages.
To remedy this, Google News founder Krishna Bharat – as well as a team of other Googlers – worked to create a new ranking mechanism. This mechanism, known as “Storyrank,” examines news stories from recognized sources. Based on how many different sources are covering the information, a specific stories or topics are given a rank based on their apparent importance. Additional ranking tools have been developed in the last decade, allowing for an efficient aggregation of news links.
Bin Laden’s death serves as a capstone to 9/11. It is also a time to look at how far the nation and its perception of news has come. In the first week of May alone, 150,000 news pages have been posted about Bin Laden, demonstrating just how much we’ve come to rely on the internet – as well as tools like Google News – for information.