Google Living Stories provides an experimental way to consume news, developed by a partnership between Google, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. In Living Stories, you can read the same reporting and analysis that you expect from the Times and the Post, delivered on a highly interactive platform.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Living Stories that I follow haven't been updated for a while. What's going on?
Google Living Stories was an experiment that was launched in partnership with the New York Times and the Washington Post in December 2009. These two news organizations updated their respective Living Stories until the experiment was concluded in February 2010. Since that time, Google has released the Living Stories code so that developers can try this experimental news format on their own sites. The original Living Stories, however, will not be updated.
What is a Living Story?
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.
How do they work?
Living Stories contain a number of components to help you read and better understand the news.
A summary at the top of each story provides a story overview. If anything significant occurs, the summary will be rewritten the next time you visit the page, with those changes highlighted for your attention.
A running catalog of information related to the story is collected and condensed for easy browsing. The newest information is always on top, providing easy access to the most recent developments.
Filters on the left make it easy to identify the important moments in an ongoing story, the people involved, source material, images, audio, and quotations.
A timeline on the right provides a quick snapshot of the story's most important developments.
In addition, the page is personalized to your reading patterns. When you leave the Living Story and come back to it later, the newest updates and events are presented at the top. If you have read a particular update on a previous visit, it is collapsed.
How are the Living Stories selected? Can I choose my own?
For this initial effort, the New York Times and the Washington Post selected a small set of stories that they were already reporting, and made them available as Living Stories. The availability of a living story format did not influence their decision about which stories to report.
Unfortunately, you cannot request a new living story that does not already exist. You can, however, choose which living story you would like to read by clicking on that story on the Living Stories start page.
Can I recommend a living story to other people?
You can share what you find in Living Stories in two ways.
To share a specific article on a living story, click on the "Share" link. You should see the "Share" link at the bottom of a section when you expand it. If you email this link to another person, he or she can click on it, and arrive at the exact same section that you were reading.
With one URL for each living story, however, it's easy to email the link for an entire living story to a friend. Keep in mind that each person's interaction with a living story will be unique. Everyone has the same access to all of the material on Google Living Stories, but different individuals will explore a given story in various ways.
Does RSS work for Living Stories?
RSS feeds are fully enabled for Living Stories. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for an individual story by clicking on the "RSS Feed" link at the top right of the page. Please note, however, that as of February 2010, the New York Times and Washington Post discontinued making updates to their respective living stories.
How do you personalize results on Google Living Stories?
To personalize the results you see on Living Stories, just log into your Google account. (If you don't have a Google Account, sign up here.)
How can I change my default view?
A number of filters are located on the left side of each Living Story. You can use these filters to change the way that Living Stories are presented to you.
When you adjust your filters, a link will appear below that reads, "Set as default view." By clicking on that link, you can set your view to any combination of the filters. After this, whenever you visit any living story page, you will see items that match your default view settings.
You can only specify your default view if you are logged in to your Google account.
Are Living Stories available in other languages?
At this time, Living Stories are only available in English.
Does Google Living Stories work on mobile devices?
We are exploring how we might support Living Stories on other platforms, including mobile phones, but cannot guarantee that the application will currently work on such devices.
Our news organization would like to participate. How can we partner with you?
This original project was the result of a one-time collaboration between Google, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Our goal was to innovate on existing presentations of journalism that take greater advantage of technological capabilities on the Web.
The general response was excellent. Since we launched this proof-of-concept test on Google Labs in December, 75% of people who filled out our feedback form said they preferred the Living Stories format to the traditional online news article. Users also spent a significant amount of time exploring stories. This tells us that there's a strong appetite for great journalism displayed in a compelling way.
In addition to the positive input from users, we've also heard from publishers interested in telling their own stories through the format. That's why we released Living Stories to the public to see what you can do with it. In February 2010, we open-sourced the code so all developers can build their own Living Story pages. (You can also read our Google News Help Forum to ask and answer general support questions.) In coming months we're going to look into creating software tools that make Living Stories even easier to use for news organizations. Until then, we can't wait to see what fascinating works of journalism developers, reporters and editors, working together, create using the open-sourced Living Stories code.