Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

Living Stories goes Open Source

I’ll confess I hadn’t been paying much attention to Living Stories, though now that I’ve looked into it more the idea seem fascinating and possibly useful if it become broadly adopted. The original concept, as explained by Google in early December, was as follows:

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.

In other words, at the risk of oversimplification, topic-based and prioritized news, with some personalization.

The stories they tracked in their beta program were limited in number, and some of the topics were interesting to me. Yet, unless I am doing some kind of research on, say, the politics of global warming, the topic-centric approach didn’t fully appeal to me as a way of digesting that news.

An interesting extension to this approach would be to marry Living Stories with social media – say, Google Buzz, to keep it all in the family. It might be really interesting to a) share a link on a story of interest with a group of friends, and then dynamically create a “living story” from that initial kernel, allowing friends to post related links they have found, and also comment on the topic in an associated thread.

Hm… Living Stories is open source… Maybe this is an idea worth exploring…

Google News Blog: Open-sourcing the Living Stories format.

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Written by tstaley

February 18, 2010 at 11:37 am

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