When Everything is Technology, Nothing is Technology (Premium)

I routinely provide Google with two pieces of feedback: the home in my neighborhood that is very much not a business despite being listed as so on Google Maps, and the articles that appear in the Technology section of Google News that are not technology stories. I feel ignored on both counts. But today I’d like to focus on the latter issue.

First thing each morning, I make an espresso and sit in the sunroom and read the news on my iPad. I start with The New York Times and The Washington Post, sticking mostly to the articles that make it to what passes for the front page these days. And then I move on to Google News, where I only read the technology stories. It’s kind of a transition into the workday, I guess, a high-level overview of what’s happened since the last time I looked at this kind of thing the night before.

And each day, there is some number of articles in this feed, because that’s all it really is, that do not belong there. In my opinion, of course. Some of these articles aren’t really news per se, but are rather some website pimping paid sponsored content---like sale-priced gadgets you can buy that day on Amazon or whatever---which I find annoying. But the articles I find the most troubling are the articles that I don’t feel qualify as technology stories. For example, yesterday there was a bicycle review; not for an e-bike, just a bicycle. And there are routinely car reviews, most of which come from non-tech publications.

And so I report them. Using the built-in feedback tool, I send Google the same message 1-5 times per week: “This is not a technology story.” I never hear back. And these articles keep appearing. And the days turn into weeks turn into years. (For whatever it’s worth, the quality of Google’s content in this regard is actually higher than that provided by Apple, Microsoft, or other news aggregates I’ve tried.)

This morning, I saw one of these articles and I asked my wife, who was likewise reading the news, but on her smartphone and in the kitchen, what she thought about this. Actually, I started off by asking her what topics she thought would appear in a Technology section, since she couldn’t care less about technology and absolutely doesn’t read this section in whatever newspaper or news feed apps she uses. She thought about it for a second and said, “I don’t know, maybe phones and computers?”


So I asked her, what about video games? Should video games be in Technology? She thought for a moment, having likely never considered this. But … “Yeah, I guess.” OK. What about the Kindle and music services? “Probably.” But not cars? “Maybe if it was about the technology in cars?” But even most car engines are completely computerized now. “I don’t know.” Right. No one knows. There are no good answers.

I want the Technology section to be about, well, personal technology. And if it’s big enough to drive or live in, I think that should be in it...

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