The Photo Stream can be considered a boredom buster or time waster, but it is an interesting one. The site delivers the news, not via splashy headlines, but by a stream of...you guessed it...photos. Clicking on a photo in the stream takes you to the story's web site. Newer stories are large, with their photos above the others; older stories' photos are smaller and below. The Photo Stream's interface certainly is innovative, but it may not replace your RSS reader anytime soon. However, it's still a fun way to explore the day's news.At its best,
The Photo Stream
The images are laid out out the page, some large, some small. As you hover your mouse over the picture, a headline will then display below the photos. Click the photo and you're brought to the news story, but a frame above the news story's web site keeps you linked with Photo Stream offering a "back" button to return to you the home page to look through more photos.
The Photo Stream
The frame also lets you click a link to leave a comment, but instead of the comment appearing on the blog or news web site, the comment is on the Photo Stream site. I'm not a fan of this aspect of service, as I don't think we need yet another place to comment outside of the original home of the content - we have enough places to do that as it is. However, for some larger news web sites, I can see the benefit, since not all sites provide commenting opportunities. Still, the feature seems unnecessary.
The Photo Stream's frame - seen when browsing
The Photo Stream guys seem to have more up their sleeves for the future, too: the site's "About" page mentions that one of their goals is to "empower users to create and edit their own streams and applications using our content."
No more details on that are available, but I'm already imagining reading through my OPML by browsing pictures.
The idea of using photos to capture attention for a news story certainly isn't new - newspapers, magazines, blogs, and search engines have been doing so forever. But traditionally, it has always been that the photo enhances the content - not the other way around.
The closest example to what the Photo Stream is attempting (or perhaps just showing where my mind is on a Friday), is Yahoo's gossip site, OMG!.
Here, it's the splashy close-ups of the stars and celebrities that draw you in for the clickthrough, not the headlines. Despite the headlines' text size, it's neither the large font nor what they say that is the pull, it's the "OMG! Is that Posh?" that attracts the readers' attention.
Forgive the trashy comparison, but you'll find that The Photo Stream attracts you to click through in much of the same way: A pregnant man? Steve Jobs? American Idol? Click!
That being said, for a great boredom buster or for those with short attention spans, The Photo Stream delivers. But I'm not dropping my RSS just yet.