I do have a lot of respect about the last Google's initiatives in News. "Living Stories" is a very cool prototype: "Today, on Google Labs, we're unveiling some of the work we've done in partnership with two world-class news organizations: The News York Times and The Washington Post. The result of that experiment is the Living Stories prototype, which features new ways to interact with news and the quality of reporting you've come to expect from the reporters and editors at The Post and The Times."
The key idea is that: "Each story has an evolving summary of current developments as a well as an interactive timeline of critical events. Stories can be explored by themes, significant participants or multimedia."
Google, I do like the idea of a collaboration with NYT and WP. Anyway, the idea of following the evolution of the story is not a new idea. It has been published in a patent Systems and methods for clustering information and used live by Ask.com as the 'History' feature:
"A clustering algorithm is used to cluster the information according to the selected window of time .omega.. New clusters can be periodically linked to chains, or new topic clusters can be identified, periodically. The new clusters are compared to other clusters to discover similarities in topic. When similarities are found among clusters in different time windows, the clusters are linked together to form a chain or are added to a preexisting chain. This comparison with clusters in previous time windows can stop if no similar information is found for a period of time proportional to the extension of the current cluster or to an extension of the chain. The chain of clusters is organized in a hierarchy according to the temporal information of each cluster: the most recent cluster is typically displayed at the top of the chain and the oldest cluster is typically displayed at the bottom of the chain."
On Feb 2008, this article gave a positive judgment about the 'History' feature: "My vote – thumbs up. Ask.com has done well integrating social media with news in a clean, easy-to-use interface. Features like story history could save me time"