Google’s still feeling all announcey, with the addition of something called “living stories” to its repertoire of announcements over the past few days.
The project looks like the Google News topic pages got drunk and shagged Wikipedia, and the result is a hybrid results page that condenses the hell out of results to give users an overview of any given topic. Google’s got a rundown on their blog explaining the initiative, teaming up with the New York Times and the Washington Post to present a couple of sample topics for Living Stories.
Blogging in general has been a bit of an influence, with a heavily hyperlinked summary at the top of the page:
Below that is a menu on the left side, allowing users to focus on certain aspects of a story: Events, Articles, People, Quotes, Resources, Images, Videos, Audio, Graphics and Opinion are the choices currently listed:
Interesting especially is the inclusion of the two big print news names, the Washington Post and the New York Times. It may signal a coming larger acceptance on the part of print media to bend or break now, to change revenue models before it’s too late. (If it isn’t already.) Google addresses this in the first paragraph of the post, basically acknowledging that they’re at the center of the issue and ha, ha, ha!, they’re totally running with it!
The interface is truly cool, limiting the legwork needed for casual users to get much more dynamic, relevant results. (For instance, once you visit, some of the information you’ve seen becomes greyed out so new to you tidbits are easily recognizable- try that with your newsprint, Chicago Sun-Times.) There’s a video below from the Google blog, and here’s how they described it in their own words:
The idea behind Living Stories is to experiment with a different format for presenting news coverage online. News organizations produce a wealth of information that we all value; access to this information should be as great as the online medium allows. A typical newspaper article leads with the most important and interesting news, and follows with additional information of decreasing importance. Information from prior coverage is often repeated with each new online article, and the same article is presented to everyone regardless of whether they already read it. Living Stories try a different approach that plays to certain unique advantages of online publishing. They unify coverage on a single, dynamic page with a consistent URL. They organize information by developments in the story. They call your attention to changes in the story since you last viewed it so you can easily find the new material. Through a succinct summary of the whole story and regular updates, they offer a different online approach to balancing the overview with depth and context.