Google News Gets All Up In Your Business (Is That Really A Good Thing?)

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Rather see a New York Times article than a Huff Po link? Google can arrange that.

Today, Google unveiled its latest News update, a customized ranking system that relies on rankings made by you to display a more tailored news feed. The latest feature, “News For You,” will offer localized, personalized news based on your preferences. By asking a series of interest questions, users will be able to swear off certain topics from appearing in their streams, or, add specific subjects to the mix, creating a sliding scale of personalization within a newsy recommendation engine. Users are even able to preference not just what news they’re reading, but also, where it comes from. Is it your Bookmark Bar come to life? Google certainly hopes so.

(More on Techland: What Would It Take For Google To Lure You Away From Facebook?)

In a blog post, Google writes that it’s striving to become even more relevant to you. Translation: It’s only going to feed you topics you’ve expressed interest in, and get to know you just that much better. (You better believe you’ll be seeing a more tailored stream of ads thrown your way, too.)

Though I’m excited I can finally tell reality television to virtually kiss off with a click of a button, I’m much more concerned that we’ll just corner ourselves further off from the world. For every savvy news consumer, there’s someone who never minimizes TMZ. Where reading a broad overview of the world’s news used to be an adventure in self-betterment, I’m concerned that it’s now being made seem to be an annoyance. “Don’t read things you don’t understand. You need a personalized news experience!” Huh. Well, now that you mention it, maybe I do?

(More on TIME: Facebook, Pandora Lead Rise Of Recommendation Engines)

Perhaps it’s far too idealistic, but I’d still like to imagine that maybe news shouldn’t be all about you. A few weeks ago, Lev wrote a truly insightful piece for TIME about the rise of Internet recommendation systems and the trade-off in cultural currency they represent. “Recommendation engines are the enemy of serendipity and Great Books and the avant-garde. A 19th century recommendation engine would never have said, If you liked Monet, you’ll love Van Gogh! Impressionism would have lasted forever.” Think about it. As more and more people will surely grow up hitting the snooze button on real world news, how will they educate themselves about it? It’s a scary thought to picture a generation of teens toddling into adulthood almost completely in the dark of the world’s biggest issues. Am I being dramatic? Probably. But it’s something to consider before hitting that “ignore” tab.