Living Stories cried out for visuals and video demos, though, so I offer both here. Landing page:
It's basically publishers' content streamlined on one page. When users click on a link to read a story they get story summaries with timelines of top events:
Scroll down to see stories:
Clicking on a story causes it to unfurl, like a rapid banner right within the screen, no jumping off to other destinations:
When you're done reading the story, click the "show less" link at the bottom and it rolls right back up. Move on to the next story. Wash, rinse, repeat. Efficient. You may scroll up and down and click buttons, but you won't have to leave the Living Stories site.
How does this work? Living Stories FAQ:
"Each living story resides at a permanent URL, making it easier to follow the latest updates to the stories that interest you, as well as review deeper background materials that are relevant for a story's context. Living Stories automatically track your interaction with the story, making sure that you are always presented with the news you need, the way you want it."
"You can read full articles and browse multimedia without ever leaving the Living Story page. Just expand the content you want to see, and minimize it when you're done. Whether you want a short update, deep analysis, feature stories, video, or important quotes, everything related to the story is on the Living Story page."
Imagine you looked at all of your news content like this without jumping off to different sites. Not only would you give your back button and browser tabs a rest, but you could consume news and updates to news more efficiently.
Now imagine when Google starts powering Living Stories with its real-time search index. That will make for some amazing discovery opportunities and could threaten Twitter's real-time pedigree.
This demo video provides another run-through:
Why did Google create Living Stories? Efficiency would be one reason. Some guilt out of dinging the publishing industry for years? Perhaps. Some philanthropic sense of helping the struggling news market? Yes, but expect Google to monetize this through ads over time.
"Should publishers charge for news online? How do they replace lost sources of revenue such as classified ads? How will accountability journalism endure? And, even more fundamentally, will news survive in the digital era? These are questions we're deeply interested in, and we've been exploring potential solutions."
One thing that should be encouraging to publishers is that Google is making an effort to meet them halfway in attacking the publishing industry's problems, which is fitting because Google, if you believe publishers, is the source of publishing's problems.
What do you do when the company you blame reaches out to grasp you by the hand before you fall off the cliff of steeply declining revenues? Do you reach for that hand or let go? It will be interesting to see.
Publishers should get on board. It certainly can't hurt any.