Google [expletive deleted] up Google News

Rant week? Fine, rant week.

Keeping up on the “beats” of Iowa highways, school districts, and other things means a regular look for stories. For that, I use Google News a lot. It did a pretty good job of tracking down stuff I was looking for…until a week ago Tuesday, when disaster struck.

Google News has become the latest victim of the “subtraction by subtraction”/”optimized for mobile” user interface madness of the 2010s, and the hipsters love it. It “looks like something from this decade,” proclaims Ars Technica, and then a commenter pointed out that that’s not a compliment. It’s “cleaner,” says Engadget, in the way that a room that’s never used is clean. It’s “a much-needed redesign to cut down on clutter and confusion,” says the Verge.

Clutter and confusion? Take a look at old and new side by side, tell me who would be confused by the old look and embrace the new, and then explain why those people should be allowed to vote. The new design embraces everything that sucks about the “mobile web”, from larger images when we’re looking for stuff to read, to the non-use of underlined blue text as links, to the headline-only approach that reopens the door for clickbait, to the vast, gaping wastes of space on any horizontal monitor. (The website Daring Fireball, looking back at the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, perhaps unintentionally shows off the catastrophe of vertical-first design.)

All of that could be tolerable if not for the other part of the modern design equation, flipping off power users. (See also: 2016 MacBookPro.) “SORT BY DATE” IS GONE. It’s absolutely nonexistent in New Google News. Sure, it can “localize,” but there is only ONE PAGE of results and they aren’t in chronological order. And when you’re looking for current events, or past-week events, that’s kind of a big deal.

(And all that’s before touching the new “fact-checking tool”, to which, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? or said another way, what could possibly go wrong?) Those of us who work with words on a large screen are apparently a dying breed anyway, given Fox Sports’ and MTV’s recent unceremonious amputations of their writing staffs and the New York Times (!) eliminating (!) its copy desk.

So if in the future I seem to be scrambling for news nuggets, it’s because Google took something that wasn’t broke and broke it.

Signed, a member of the Make It 2010, 2005, Or God Help Me 1999 on the Internet Again.

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