Attempting to keep up with the news can be ambitious, but these days it can also be depressing. Between our imminent ecological disaster, ever-increasing race and class tensions, sexual harassment complaints, and a government more suited to reality television, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the huge number of horrendous things out there. Google's attempt to cope with this fatigue with a new tool for its assistant that makes meaningful good news easier to find.
Designed to make a daily digestion of positive stories simply, users can only ask Google Assistant to "Tell me something good." In Google's terms, the company says that many of us are in a "hope gap" ̵
Good news in the assistant's context does not raise empty calories à la Remarkable, but rather news that focuses on positive changes happening in the world. Google calls this "solutions journalism", and it is meant to spark dialogue about how to do things better, instead of compelling to how all is terrible. For example, "good news" includes stories such as how a university eliminated the gap between white and black students, and how Iceland used unique tactics to curb daydreams.
The business is being spearheaded by the Solutions Journalism Network, an ideal displaying prospects for ways to solve issues in the news coverage. It is an organization that has collaborated with newsrooms like NPR, Huffington Post and PBS to spread best practices for its optimistic journalism, and 17 different universities use a SJN-specified curriculum. As an example of success, SJN describes an occasion when a newspaper motivated a whole community to reduce its mortality rate.
The initiative is in line with wider overtures across different technology companies that want to fix or improve the way we connect with each other on the internet. Both Facebook and Instagram now have tools that help you manage your time on social media, while Apple has made it easier for people to micromanage time spent on phones. Much discussion about various platforms like YouTube and Twitter, meanwhile, is committed to ensuring that users do not go away, feel depressed or burned out. Within this context, Google's new feature comes across as another technological giant's attempt to improve internet morale.
Google acknowledges that this venture will not necessarily fix everything, but it still finds exploration of the experiment worth, given our current media landscape. If you want to give this a test run, you can only use any device with Google Assistant, such as a phone or a Google home – the worst thing that may be is that you want something good.