joined together to experiment with a new way to provide news with Google's Living Stories. Today, Google has declared the experiment a success and has said that it will offer the project's functionality to the general public.It's been just over two months since Google, the New York Times and the Washington Post
According to Google, 75% of people who sent feedback regarding the Living Stories project have said that they preferred the format to traditional online news. But maybe that's the thing - "traditional" online news is just the knee jerk reaction of a previously print-based industry trying to jump on the bandwagon. Trying to keep up with the health care debate by typing those words into Google or even Google News or any number of other search engines is often more a waste of time than anything else.
Google's Living Stories allows media to provide news in a way that lets readers fully explore a story from a central location. They don't have to scroll down through a page of search results or unrelated articles. Instead, a single page break a story down into four main components: a general summary at the top, a list of filters along the left side, a time-line of important events along the right side and a stream of updates and articles in the center. Living Stories is like a personalized RSS feed reader, but customized to pay attention to just that one story. The story is customized to the user, keeping track of what they have already seen so that it can alert them when new content is available.
When we first saw the news delivery system two months ago, we said that we could "imagine other publications employing this kind of system of organization" and now we're glad to see that this will become a reality. Something to note, however, is that this is not an algorithm-based service provided by Google - the content of a Living Story is completely determined by an editorial team. In a way, it's just another content management system, but one that is tailored to telling a single story and, from what we've seen, telling it well and from a number of angles.
Disclosure: ReadWriteWeb is a syndication partner of the NYTimes.