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All the news and views become a searchable piece of history.


As we all know, today's newspaper is tomorrow's fish and chip wrapping. However, thanks to Google, old newspaper copy has gained a reprieve from the grease.

Last week Google launched it news archiving service, which gives us all access to 200 years' worth of journalistic endeavours and in advert-ently makes history searchable.

Google has gained access to digitised back issues of such fine organs as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times, The Guardian and our very own Birmingham Post.

If you go to, you can now search through every article my fellow scribblers and I ever wrote.

Frankly, I'm horrified. Until now I had been rather glad that Google's news search service ( only listed articles for thirty days.

I really have written some truly stupid things over the years. Obviously I didn't think they were stupid at the time, however with hindsight and little bit more accumulated knowledge, I rather they were forgotten.

But now they will be left for dubious posterity long after my death.

This isn't Google's first foray in to what is known as "The Dark Web", which describes content that is not directly available on the web and another "you heard it here first" for this column.

For instance Google has been letting us search the contents of books with its "Book Search Service" for several years now and is soon to offer free PDFs of out-of-copyright books. Classic literature fans will be able to download popular classics and other rare books that are no longer subject to copyright.

However, if you were wondering how Google had managed to convince the old media monoliths to part with their precious content, the news archive service is not entirely free.

There are many free articles available, but many are from subscription-based news services, including The Birmingham Post articles.

Search results are sorted so articles of interest to historical researchers will be listed first, taking into account the publication in which the article appeared, how much coverage the underlying event received, who covered the story, and in what manners they covered it.

Google assures us that no priority is given to paid for content - remember their mission statement is "do no evil", so we must believe them.

How many of the net-native generation, who seldom buy a newspaper, will pay for back issues, it yet to be seen. Paying for news is alien to them too. They might succumb to read a free sheet on the train, or other places they can't get on-line, but that's it. However, the news archive does present a fabulous new forensic research tool for historians and modern history students, who will now not have to get off their backsides, go to the library and wade through microfiche.

Chris is managing director of internet consultancy WAA WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at E-mail
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 12, 2006
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