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In December, Google’s Living Stories, one of the latest Google Labs endeavors, was used in collaboration with the WashingtonPost.com and New York Times to re-purpose content online. In February, Google is opening up Living Stories so that any publisher can adopt its experiment in presenting news online and in real time.

Bringing More Stories to Life

The goal of Living Stories is two-fold: to reconfigure the way news is presented online and to develop tools to help news organizations.

Living Stories may serve publishers with a means to bring their content to life. By having a news story’s URL updated regularly with new developments, rather than having to write a new article on the story with a different URL, readers can see and interact with latest updates on the stories that interest them, as well as to review deeper background materials that are relevant for a story's context.

While the two major newspapers with which the initiative was piloted have no plans to incorporate the project into their sites, Google says that the reception so far has compelled them to open source the format.

On average, users spent nine minutes on each story during the pilot and a majority of users who submitted feedback indicated that they preferred the Living Stories format to traditional online news articles.

A New Type of Content Platform

Ultimately, it’s the story that makes Google’s experiment work and since Google doesn't create any content itself, offering the open source API to web publishers, developers and journalists is the only way keep it living.

Two months surely wasn’t enough time for the application to be sufficiently experimented with. Which is why Mac Slocum of O’Reilly Radar reminds us that “Living Stories was built to be a tool; a new type of content platform.” By making it open to anyone with a story to tell, readers can see what Living Stories is capable of.

But the application is not just limited to newspapers, Slocum notes, and says we can expect to see book publishers and academics take advantages of the innovative interface.

Publishers seeking to incorporate Living Stories can access the code and instructions, forums and wikis at http://code.google.com/p/living-stories/.