Google has launched an interesting new take on consuming news content. The basic idea behind Living Stories is to take a corpus of news stories and determine the graph that represents the narrative made up of events, culminating in the current episode as presented by the latest report (or reports). In Google’s interface, this graph is actually a line – effectively a time line of associated stories.
Here’s an example:
Articles published in a news paper (format) are only ever the latest episode in an ongoing saga. Journalists may, to the extent that space allows, summaries the story to date, but that isn’t a substitute for getting an in depth presentation of the major (and minor) events that have lead up to this point in the narrative.
The idea underlying this system is one which I’ve discussed a few times on this blog and which I have published research on. See ‘From Episodes to Sagas: Understanding the News by Identifying Temporally Related Story Sequences, Balasubramanyan, Lin, Cohen, Hurst & Smith, 2009’ and ‘Narratives: A Visualization to Track Narrative Events as they Develop, Fisher, Hoff, Robertson & Hurst, 2008.’
Given today’s journalistic and technological rush towards real-time everything, systems like this can help bring back context and expose readers to the bigger picture. Likely Google’s system uses no automation right now, but the potential is there and could ultimately be folded in to the overall news experience.