Living News From Google, Times, & WaPo: What the Web Was Made For

Such a cool idea at Google Labs. Living Stories is RSS on steroids. The tool gathers together all stories on a breaking news topic, throws in timelines, filters and tags so you can see what kind of content it is and displays it all on one clean-looking webpage.

If I may be permitted an ounce of Wednesday snark? The name sounds like an afterschool program aimed at grade schoolers. I keep expecting one of the Google brainiacs to transform back into a mannequin for store opening time (right before our eyes!).

Back to less adolescent analysis. Here’s Google’s synopsis:

Complete coverage of an on-going story is gathered together and prioritized on one URL. You can now quickly navigate between news articles, opinion pieces and features without long waits for pages to load.

I love this idea and keep thinking about how it could be applied to book marketing. Say the big story is a book that’s making waves outside of the literary pages (like The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, for example). How amazing would it be to collect all news stories about the book, add in review pages from blogs and periodicals, link back to the publisher site for an author bio, author’s Twitter stream etc etc?

This is the 21st century version of getting the book out of the book review pages and into the news. If NY Times and WaPo can partner with Google on this, there must be opportunity for other media sources (ahempublishers and retailers) to do the same.

This doesn’t just have to fuel blockbuster culture either. An amazing edition to the Living Stories (it’s about to appear!) news section would be a sidebar with related books where there could be links to new and backlist titles addressing the subject of the breaking news story. The trend towards faster production schedules in topical books would make it ever more possible to have timely tomes suited for a niche market ready to go.