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Thinking Global, Google News Goes Local

Looking to serve more of a global audience, Google, Monday said it is adding more regional categories to its news service.

The Mountain View, Calif. based search engine company unveiled five new country-specific global news service sites that are based on its main Google News offering.

"Today we have Google Canada, U.K., New Zealand, Australia, and India," said Krishna Bharat, principal scientist with Google. "It is all part of our plan to be an unbiased global news provider that also serves local tastes."

Google's Canadian News Service, for example, is designed to offer news that is about Canada, in Canada, or if interest to Canadians.

Google's news service monitors 4,500 on-line news publications continuously. Bharat said automation ensures that the content is well balanced. "This is all done by computer, there is no room for human bias," he said.

Under the covers is clustering software developed at Google. Susan Feldman, analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass., said clustering is a multivariate statistical technique for rapid comparison of documents.

"You can think of clustering as a way to build a vector in an imaginary space out of each document," said Feldman. "Then you measure the angle between vectors to get a measure of how similar documents are."

Feldman said search engines can also use natural language techniques. "With the recent acquisition of Applied Semantics, Google should have this capability soon," she said.

There is a common misconception about search engines, according to Feldman.

"These techniques have nothing to do with database queries," she explained. "The two are quite different and complementary to one another."

Google's news service hit the Web in a beta version last September. Bharat said the overall News site is still a work in progress.

"We are taking feedback from users," he said. "The transition out of beta will likely be so gentle that users really won't notice much of a difference." <