Google Fast Flip: The Future of Publishing?

Last Updated Sep 15, 2009 1:41 PM EDT

As a longtime magazine writer and a sad observer of the imploding newspaper industry, I've often wondered about the future of publishing. After all, people still want the content -- but paper-based publishing is definitely on the way out.

What will replace it? The Web, obviously, but in what form? I think Google's new Fast Flip may hold the answer. It turns Google News into a visual, discoverable, and decidedly pleasant way to read online content. In fact, I'm so enamored of it, I whipped together this quick demo video (which is best viewed full-screen):


As you can see, Fast Flip is divided into four main sections: Popular, Sections, Topics, and Sources. Within each you can browse the default content or drill further for more specific results. (This being Google, you can also run a search, natch.)

You really have to play with it a bit to get the hang of the interface, but once you do, you'll quickly come to the realization that this is how online content should be organized and presented. Imagine a Kindle with an interface like this.

Speaking of which, there's already a mobile version for Android and iPhone devices, and it delivers a similar experience: choose a source, topic, or category, then browse the stories by swiping with your finger. It's pretty slick, though the small screen makes reading a bit more challenging.

Take a look, then hit the comments and let me know if you think this has all the makings of the Next Big Thing. [via Google Operating System]

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.