Google’s hard at it in the labs again with a new feature called Living Stories. Living stories are more like living “topics,” with story topics put together into a permanent place and updated in a variety of ways. It’s available at http://livingstories.googlelabs.com/.
Once you get to the site, pick a story you want to follow. I chose executive pay, which is at http://livingstories.googlelabs.com/lsps/executivepay. Note the permanent URL. When you get there you’ll see a page which looks like this:
There’s a summary at the top of the page, a timeline, and down the middle of the page stories. The left side of the page beneath the timeline provides pointers to different kinds of media/information, while the right side provides links to important stories in the timeline.
When you click on a story you find interesting, you don’t leave the page — it opens right in the middle, which does make it easier to take in several stories without losing your place or getting hugely distracted. Key people and companies in the stories are highlighted; click on them and you’ll get a popout with a one-sentence explanation and sometimes a picture.
A took a look at the supplemental materials. There were plenty of images and quotes available, fewer videos. There were some great graphics showing the evolution of executive pay.
So how do you keep up with the changes to the stories if the URL is permanent? You have a couple of options. The first is a good old-fashioned RSS feed. The second is signing in with a Google account and getting updates to the story e-mailed to you.
Personally I’d prefer RSS.
Google’s put together a great way to group a lot of stories in one place. The one problem is the sources. The New York Times and Washington Post are great papers, but there are lots of other great papers, too, and you could get an even more multifaceted look at
a story if you used several different sources. I’ll be a lot more interested in this when I can go to a story about something happening in Virginia, for example, and get stories from every indexed news source in the state.