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Save Newsmap!

Posted by Joshua Glenn  November 16, 2007 11:13 AM

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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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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

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.


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