Google, NewsCorp, The NY Times, Hearst...What's Next

Ever since Rupert Murdoch started yelping about Google's compilation of news and the impact it has on publishing and how he's going to find a way to pull his (for which read News Corporation's) publications' content off of Google and make people pay for content because why should people get free content anyway.....(you get his drift).....publishers and Google have been trying to figure out what's next.

Well, we've got the first signs of it - from both sides.  Forget the rhetoric.  We've got action.

According to a couple of ostensibly unrelated, but in fact, inextricably bound articles in today's NY Times - along with a really cool mock Sports Illustrated video on YouTube - we're seeing the future now.

First, we've got Google working with the New York Times and Washington Post to create a new "news by topic" service that has the potential not only to make the user experience better and richer, it is also designed to help newspapers better target advertising and, thus, reverse their current trajectory of doom.  Right now that service is being piloted in the Google Labs (a wonderful site to visit any time just to see what the creative minds of Google are playing with), so you can take a look.  It's called Living Stories.

Next, we've got a consortium of magazine and newspaper publishers forming to create the next generation of software for e-readers specifically for their content.  Hearst, CondeNast, Meredith, Time Inc. and (here he is again) News Corp have come together to begin designing software for e-readers that don't yet exist.  That the new generation of electronic reading devices will is not in question.  After all, no matter how great anyone thinks Amazon's Kindle or the Sony Reader might be, they're as good as first generation.  They've not even touched what the technology has the capability to do - just not yet.

Especially because Apple isn't yet into the game.  They will be - not least because the consortium is specifically targeting the Apple iTunes Store to ensure that it will not be the primary provider (if at all) of what the consortium has to offer.

So, good for the publishers figuring out what else and what next.  And good for Google figuring out how to dance its way through a mine field that it suddenly found itself in from those same and other publishers.

And, best of all, good for all of us that all of these companies are figuring out what's next.  Even if we have to pay - whether through advertising or on a subscription basis - the most important thing is that we are able to know and access the information we need in this more than complex world in which we live.