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The news on Google’s Fast Flip
Will Google’s experimental news site make online reading more pleasant or more profitable?
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oogle’s experimental new Fast Flip is a “slick online tool” for reading the news, said Alexei Oreskovic in Reuters. The goal is to make online articles feel more like “the good old print product,” as readers flip “quickly and effortlessly” through the static first pages of articles from partner newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek.

Google’s Fast Flip is kind of “cool,” said Rafe Needleman in CNET News, “if your brain is stuck in 1969 and you want to pretend that newfangled computer in front of you is a microfilm reader.” The speed boost is nice, but Web designers haven’t spent the last decade coming up with interactive, dynamic sites just so Google can embrace the “old print-based, dead page model.”

Wanting to flip through a magazine or newspaper isn’t some “archaic fetish,” said David Carr in The New York Times. It’s a “baked-in reflex,” and Fast Flip captures that tactile urge especially well on the iPhone or other touch-screen devices. Even on desktop browsers, “Fast Flip denudes pages of fat image files and ads” that “bring back dark memories of dial-up” for online news customers.

Google’s media partners must be in a “blind panic” to agree to participate in this, said Paul Bradshaw in Online Journalism Blog. Fast Flip makes Google the “parasite that the news industry says it is.” Google claims this will help crisis-hit newspapers, because it shares revenue from the AdSense ads it places on Fast Flip and readers can (but won’t) click through to the original story. But the loss of pageviews isn’t worth “some pennies from Google.”

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