Google News Cluster Timelines

Just saw a post from Alex Chitu  at the Google Operating System blog about a new feature on Google news letting you see a timeline of articles from a cluster of related articles. Here’s a screenshot, taken from his post:

This strikes me as a cool feature, though it’s frustrating that Google limits you to its predetermined “related articles” clusters. The result is that the entire timeline only spans a couple of days, with most of the posts concentrated in less than a day. It would be nice, at least in my view, to be able to see such timelines across arbitrary ranges, in order to see the arc for a long-running story like a high-profile trial.

You can do that, to some degree, in the timeline view for the Google News archive search, but the archive search stops a few months short of the present day’s news.

I wish Google would take a unified approach to offer what strikes me as a very useful feature–at least for anyone trying to understand and contextualize a news story. But I suppose I can’t complain too much about a free service.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

11 replies on “Google News Cluster Timelines”

There are lots of ways to generate timelines, and I am a fan of using KL-divergence. But I’m mostly complaining here about the inconsistent / arbitrarily limited interface. And I’m only complaining because I want more–I do see this as a step forward for Google News.


And in other exploratory search news, you can now filter by color in Google image search.

Also a step forward. But.. goodness.. what took so long?


I’m aware of it, but I don’t think that’s quite right either. What I really want is something like the Google Finance interface, at least as far as the timeline interface goes. I want that, plus the flexibility to specify the topic with the flexibility of, say, Newssift.


Agree with you Daniel. We did something similar a few years ago and were keen to give control to the user to choose dates, topics and keywords to timeline over the past 5 years.

I think Topix did something similar too?

But..I do like the attempt Google make to identify key events over the timeline. Very neat.


Agreed–I love the SIMILE tools, and we’ve used some of them at Endeca, at least in demos. But the challenge here is putting it all together–interface and event detection. The timeline interface for Google Finance is just fine–but the question is if / how Google could integrate it with event detection over general topic search.


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