Walled Garden, Labyrinth ... potato, tomato

Anchor for this item  posted Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 9:09 PM MST

NYTimes has cobbled together a subscription RSS site ... not sure, but if this Techcruch article is right then their effort isn't aimed at producing anything like a mashup / aggregator. "NYTimes launches MyTimes, a weak RSS play" (links to screenshots).

It's a by-invitation beta right now. I subscribe to their online services ... word is I might be getting mine in a couple of days.

The NYTimes' documentation is pretty clear, if someone terse:

"you will be able to create a personalized page with what you like best in The New York Times and your favorite sites and blogs from across the Web. Choose your own sources, or explore a broad variety of sources suggested by Times reporters and editors who are experts in your areas of interest. You can even see what some of your favorite Times journalists – and soon, other Times readers – have on their own personal “My Times” pages. We are still working on this “My Times” feature and hope to make it available to more readers soon."

No doubt there's some benefit to well structured access to the Times' graveyard and archive ... no doubt. But isn't this all a bit like a store that gets its customers in the doors with loss-leader sale? PaidContent's ''Peronalized Service; MyTimes'' suggests something like that:

"In some respects, it’s a template personalized news page with the features we expect from any major site — drill-down to specific areas, add RSS feeds, move modules around, select from suggested news sources, etc. [...] But the NYT is also playing its ace card: beyond-the-headlines expertise from its own journalists. A small number of staffers (26 at last count) have set up their own pages [...] First thoughts: Smart idea to start in very limited fashion. [...] It’s not a customized home page, though — the NYT isn’t relinquishing the role of front-page editor to the user."

So ... it's no garden of delight. Perhaps a garden, of sorts, one where folk have to amble through a maze. Bottome line: this approach reminds me of the psychologists who design retail stores to maximze customers' length of stay by increasing the distance they need to walk, with convenience sprinkled around, a bit here, a bit there, like sugared popcorn ... popcorn with artificial colour and flavouring.

But HeyHo, what do we want for free? After all, it's a fallen world, right? I mean ... isn't it?


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