I was the Q in the Q-and-A session today at a session featuring Google's Josh Cohen at the annual Canadian Newspaper Association conference in Toronto.
We spent about an hour examining what Google wants to do in the news and publishing space (lend assistance to make advertising more relevant), what it won't do (be a provider), what publishers can do about getting better results from Google search (file fast, often and build credibility with the users to reinforce rankings), and what can be learned from user behaviour with news (they're taking charge, but they're also looking for direction).
He reads papers, loves having them, but reads many more online. He was affable and open, and a number of delegates later felt he'd been more accessible than anyone else from the digital behemoth they'd seen. (A blog on the conference from Toronto's Eye Weekly calls me a journeyman gadfly. Who writes these things?)
Later in the program, the head of marketing for Virgin Mobile Canada had some interesting thoughts about young people: they're respectful of their parents, they don't consider computers technology, they're impatient with delays, they prefer to do as they learn, and their understanding is informed more by gaming (trial and error and restart) than theory.