September 21, 2007

New York Times Becomes Browsable Again

First NY Times Restaurant Review, Circa 1859?

“While poking around in the newly opened archives of the New York Times yesterday, I stumbled upon an article called How We Dine (full text in PDF) from January 1, 1859. I’m not well versed in the history of food criticism, but I believe this is perhaps the first restaurant review to appear in the Times and that the unnamed gentleman who wrote it (the byline is ‘by the Strong-Minded Reporter of the Times’) is the progenitor of the paper’s later reviewers like Ruth Reichl, Mimi Sheraton, and Frank Bruni….

The entire article is well worth the read…one of the most interesting things I’ve found online in awhile.” [Kottke.org]

I think it’s great the New York Times has opened up its archive, but sadly, Jason Kottke probably could have found this article ages ago simply by using his public library’s databases. But he wouldn’t have been able to easily link to it or discuss it with nonsubscribers. This move by the Times certainly illustrates how paywalls prevent findability and browsability of content. And as Kottke notes in a previous post, thousands of old links to NYT articles magically started working once this happened. That last post also includes links to historically interesting articles, ones you wouldn’t have been able to just click to before this week, so they’ve already imbibed themselves with a discussability they’d lost.

From the email that went to TimesSelect subscribers:

“Since we launched TimesSelect, the Web has evolved into an increasingly open environment. Readers find more news in a greater number of places and interact with it in more meaningful ways. This decision enhances the free flow of New York Times reporting and analysis around the world. It will enable everyone, everywhere to read our news and opinion – as well as to share it, link to it and comment on it.”

It was browsable and findable behind the library login, but readers couldn’t interact with it on the open web in “meaningful ways.” Obviously not every publication can or will want to do this I think the Times has made a good call here, because its archive will indeed be interacted with in more meaningful ways by everyone now. They’ve put themselves back into peoples’ flows and are going where more users are in a more accessible way.


5:15 am Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. Only articles from 1851-1922 (those in the public domain) are free. For others once still needs a subscription to the ProQuest database or must go to a library that contains the microfiche copies.

    Comment by Christine Rinehart — September 23, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

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