Livingstories.googlelabs.com is an online experiment in presenting news in a way specifically designed to optimize the online experience. The site delivers the current major news stories, with information from all sources grouped in one convenient place. The home page of the site has a listing of major stories, with sub-headings for significant articles about the story. Clicking on the major story brings up a summary page, with a brief description of the story, a timeline of events in the story, and significant articles and videos. The page also contains links to pages containing News, Features, Opinions, People, Quotes, Resources, Images, Video, Audio and Graphics. At the top of the page, the user can see when the page was last updated. The user can also subscribe to email alerts for the story, or to an RSS feed for the story. Links are also provided to view the story by most important only, newest first or oldest first. All content is contained on the Living Stories site, so there is no time spent visiting the links where the stories originated. In short, the site groups all of the most important information on the web about a story in a single place. The site is updated as new stories, images, videos, etc. become available. The updates are not in real time, however refreshing a given page will update the page with the latest news.
Livingstories.googlelabs.com was developed by Google in partnership with The New York Times and The Washington Post. The site was launched in December 2009. As a Google Labs project, the site is still in beta, and there is no guarantee that it will remain a product. The Living Stories experiment stopped in February 2010 and the app is no longer being updated. The Living Stories code is available as open-source.
Competition to Livingstories.googlelabs.com comes from sites such as Google and Yahoo News and the major newspaper websites. The site offers a more convenient way to read the news than Google or Yahoo News. It is very similar to visiting an individual newspaper website, except on a much larger scale – there is more information available. If the experiment is a success, it will probably be integrated in some manner with the main Google News site.
The Livingstories.googlelabs.com site has the customary Google uncluttered look and feel. Despite the fact that some of the pages contain a lot of information, they do not appear cluttered. The site is very responsive, and page loads happen quickly. Videos and images load quickly as well. Navigation is somewhat intuitive, with a large number of links shown on some pages. There is no advertising displayed on the site.
Registration is not required to use the Livingstories.googlelabs.com site. Registered users gain the advantage of not having to enter their email address to receive email alerts about a story. To sign in, the user needs a Google account. The Google account registration process simply asks for email address and password.
There is no premium membership offered to the Livingstories.googlelabs.com site.
The Livingstories.googlelabs.com site is recommended to anyone who would like to be able to follow most of the important information about a news story in one convenient place. The site presents news stories in a new format, and is very easy to use. Rather than searching a news topic and visiting all of the links returned by the search, the user has the information conveniently grouped in one place.