Newsmap is a popular, free, 4-year-old web application that competes with Google News's much more popular, also-free news aggregator... by borrowing data from Google's aggregator. Newsmap's creator, Tokyo-based Marcos Weskamp, explains that his application accesses Google's "parser," and "scrapes their HTML" from it. (Note that Google doesn't generate this data in-house; they also "scrape" it -- from across the Internet.) Then, instead of presenting the data the way that Google does, Newsmap creates a one-screen visualization, dividing the news into "quickly recognizable bands," as Weskamp puts it, "which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe."
Apparently, enough is enough. Yesterday, Weskamp started a one-entry blog, titled SAVE NEWSMAP. He announced that Google was denying him access to its parser, and he asked Newsmap users to post a comment, including their name and location, urging Google to change their collective mind.
Sounds quixotic, at best... but Weskamp's strategy might have worked. Shortly before midnight (PST) last night, he posted an update: "I'm now in touch with the Google News team. We are actively trying to figure something out. Thanks everyone for all your support!"
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.