Google Erases Time (in News Search)

News tonight
is that Google is working with major content owners to launch the
ability to search news articles as far back as the 1700s. While not
entirely new — you could do this, to some degree, through existing
vendor-specific search — making it available, even in clip form,
through Google’s popular interface will be mind-altering.

Imagine being able to search through clippings from the Lindbergh
kidnappings, or Black Monday in 1929, or the 1914 assassination of
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, or press from the Napoleonic Wars. It would
be riveting, truly history come alive (even if you have to pay to read
the whole article).

More broadly, who is this good for and who does it hurt? Surprisingly,
perhaps, it’s good for content owners, like the N.Y. Times. They just
broadened their distribution umpteen-fold, while giving up, it seems,
negligible revenue. I would expect them to finally begin really
monetizing [Ooooh, that word] their giant news archives.
(Doubly so given that the Times is saying that it will have its
archives back to 1815 or so available digitally within twelve months.)

And who does it hurt? A number of companies, most prominently among
them Reed-Elsevier, whose Lexis-Nexis service — which sells news
search via high-price subscription — continues to be assaulted on many
fronts. After all, many people just want an article cite — date and
publication — and they will soon be able to get that for free.