Newspapers are dead – long live the living story

Google recently gave the world a glimpse of where it sees news going in the future.

With Living Stories, has Google unleashed the start of Minority Report style newspapers, or is there danger of good news reporting dying?

Electronic paper, just add batteries
Electronic paper and readers have been available for a while now and currently offer the user the chance to view copy electronically, where these devices differ from Smart Phones and computers, are their ability to be a user comfortable format, and in addition use very little in the way of power, making them the ideal replacement for a commuters book or newspaper.

On the horizon are thinner, paper like readers, that have colour displays and will have the ability to show video, giving the user a truly science fiction like experience.

Personalised news and content for the masses
Google have not been backwards with realising the idea of personalised content. Recently it released living stories to the world.

In short Google takes a story and looks for other sites publishing updates to the same story. It combines and presents this to the user in an ever evolving format to always show the latest information.

In the future you could see the service expand into a seamless mix of text and video, giving the user a newspaper cum TV station, always up to date and always with content you want.

By tracking the stories and content you like, Google could then customise what you see. When you are not constrained to paper, the possibilities are endless.

For free I hear you say?
So how will Google make money from these services? By the ways it’s always made money, relevant advertising targeted to the platform of choice.

But with this new technology Google has the potential to go further than ever before.

The latest generation of e-paper devices will have an always on connection to the net. With the news servers knowing physically where you are, Google will be able to target advertising like never before.

Take the example of a business man taking the bus just before lunchtime, Google will know that that a restaurant 2 minutes from the reader has a lunchtime special on, and an advert will magically appear, not only telling you the menu but in a GPS like fashion show you how to get there.

Imagine walking past a DVD shop and Google knowing what DVD’s you bought in the past, suddenly an advert for the latest blockbuster at discount rates appears flashing in the middle of the page.

Bad medicine
As with all convergent technologies there are winners and losers.

Google living stories represent a shift in how news is collected and presented. With an automated robot gathering the data, how can we be sure how accurate the facts are?

There is some truth in the notion that many voices give rise to an approximate truth, but in the age of the internet viral rumour, it’s quite possible that we will see more and more ‘urban myth’ stories being presented as fact.

Dan Browns books are just one example where fiction is perceived by many readers as fact.

With the new markets comes the potential for great profit.

Where profit is found, corruption often follows.

In the future will we really hear about the ice-caps melting if a car manufacturer is paying for the advertising, or will disinformation win the day?