NYTimes launches MyTimes, a weak RSS play

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NYTimes.com has launched a limited beta of a personalized news site called MyTimes.com (screenshots via PaidContent), an RSS play that looks more like MyYahoo than it does the recent Newsgator partnerships with MyUSAToday and MyNewsweek. Unlike in those services, it does not appear that users can add sources from outside the recommended feeds to their MyTimes page. If that’s the case then it’s a real shame – I think that the practice of major media companies offering what are effectively branded RSS readers with editorial control over a default OPML file is better than this tame use of RSS. (Update: this may not be the case, but I still don’t care for the format of this service for the reasons below.)

PaidContent reports that MyTimes is currently limited to 5,000 users who have already expressed interest but will be opened for public use later. RSS founding father Dave Winer says he wants to do a seminar on how to design interfaces for RSS readers.

It’s hard to know for sure how this will work until it’s open for use; but when only a few of the most recent items in a limited number of feeds can be viewed then popular adoption of RSS is gained at the loss of huge functionality. I love RSS and feel really ambivalent about things like this. Yes RSS enables widgets (even MyTimes calls them that) but it can do a whole lot more. Even if the MyUSAToday and MyNewsweek sites are a little clunky and not as pretty, they are really useful for serious reading. The ability to add your own sources is key, impress me with the platform and insight of your community editors. Enabling a river of news means that readers can view items according to what’s most recent across all sources – that’s key because once you’ve selected your sources then the time that individual items appear can become more important than which source they came from. Displaying news like a field of discrete building blocks is a crude way to relate to a just-in-time world. Widgets are great for many things, but don’t tell me to view the whole world’s news through them.

Here’s more on Newsgator’s vision for RSS. Isn’t it ironic that the NYTimes is offering a more sterile RSS experience than USAToday?

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    I recorded the entire session and will have it up at about 9 a.m. Pacific Time at http://scobleizer.blip.tv (there are six pieces so I can get the whole thing up on HD video).

    • http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com Mind Booster Noori

      Scoble: it *sucks* to be pointed to a link that starts a video and spitting sound to my headphones without having to press “start”. kktnxbye

    • mahalo bruddah

      is this a belated April Fools post?

      remember that magical thing called Worldwide Telescope that Scoble said “made me cry”?

      Ha. You guys need to get your head out of Google’s cloud….

  • http://www.Holistic-Show.com Andrea Tannouri

    I loved reading this article, so rich with imagery! =) Thank you. @AndreaTannouri the @HolisticMamma

    • http://sco.tt Scott Yates

      I didn’t love reading this article, I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

      And besides, Arrington made it very clear that embargos are crap, and should never be respected.

      Just tell us what the heck you know! Stop trying to be an artist!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Landon_Massey/1176934218 Landon Massey

    I am a new fan (of yours). Beautifully written in a way that I didn’t know you could write. Artful, technological prose.

    • Dave

      Wrong. It is an awful article. It is very unclear and vague. Can anyone translate this rubbish into a plain English?

      • Jamie Thomson

        Agreed. I’m afraid Steve’s brain operates on a higher plane to mine. I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about.

    • http://www.trafficspaces.com Niyi

      Hi Steve,

      Interesting writing style. Very much departed from that of other writers on this blog.

      However, it is clear that some of your readers may not know that “fourth estate” in “the common concerns expressed about the permanent loss and funding of the fourth estate” refers to “the fourth estate of the realm” i.e. journalists/press. It is antiquated English, after all.

      That aside, I reckon this paragraph really threw a lot of people off

      “What’s exhilirating is that the vague assumptions, arrogant exploits, twinkling of an ephemeral joke, they all are being ratified in a swirl of innovation that is dazzling in its ability to masquerade as superficial and childish. How strange it is to see major corporations act like teenagers while jousting for position in the transition. The dynamics of cloud computing have unleashed a paroxysm of hardball…”

      You have to understand that TC is a quick-read for several people and not bed-time reading. Some people just don’t have time to read articles twice to understand the meaning, hence the vitriol spouted in the comments.

      Don’t take it personal. Just take the advice on board


  • http://www.eflorenzano.com/ Eric Florenzano

    This article makes very little sense.

    • http://mikepower.net Mike Power

      What an overblown, florid, self-indulgent piece of hyperbolic BS!

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    Eric: here’s the transcription:

    New friendfeed coming in the morning at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.

    It’s new.


    And takes the microblogging world forward in a compelling new way.

    • http://pauljacobson.org Paul Jacobson

      Brilliant Scoble, you just made my afternoon!

    • http://www.umpcportal.com Steve 'Chippy' Paine

      Is it going to help or hinder those of us that use Microblogging in a mobile way? To we need even more powerful devices with even bigger screens?

      • http://bittermancircle.com Aron Michalski

        We already do need more powerful devices with better memory management…

    • Boris Thomson

      Thanks. Makes much more sense.

  • http://www.millardbaker.com Millard Baker

    The new Friendfeed system goes online on April 6, 2009 at 9:00am PDT. Friendfeed begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14am PDT, April 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug…

  • http://maheshcr.com/blog Mahesh CR

    “I dive in and swim in the current, swooping from swirl to eddy, then into direct communication and back to the world I’ve left behind for a moment. ”

    That was a beautiful sentence, captures the essence like no technical spec ever can.

    And you make a wonderful point about the embargo, never heard it being spoken of that way.

    Wonderful post….thanks!

  • Melinda Saunders

    FriendFeed is already yesterday’s news.

    Robert I expect you will move onto the next thing by the pm.

    Will be hard to get the attention of the mainstream away from Twitter. Will they change their name to something cool???

  • Justin

    I have no idea what any of this article means. It makes no sense.

    • http://www.cannerycasinoandhotel.net/ CanneryCasinoAndHotel

      yeah me too.

  • http://p0ps.tumblr.com p0ps

    Standing by, on the ready, T minus 5 hrs and counting…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fred_Grott/592318318 Fred Grott

    I am wondering when 75% of access to twitter and friend feed come from mobile smartphones that have web browsers who this new twitter real-time bus will affect LBS consumer mobile applications.

    Seems to me that the Mobile Hybrid solution of using one mobile framework such as rhomobile to allow app to be dev using web code while still being able to access gps might be the best play for some twitter like service start ups.

    I think the next Twitter if there is such a thing will be integrated with GPS/LBS.

    • http://bittermancircle.com Aron Michalski

      The Friendfeed IM interface is the closest mobile experience I’ve had to the old Twitter realtime IM with Track and the easiest to send threaded comments while on the move.

  • Gerry Orkin

    The-next-big-thing is coming at us today, apparently, and the thing after that will come at us in a few months, and the one after that in a few weeks, and the time between each next-big-thing will keep decreasing, until there is a next-big-thing coming at us about as fast as microblog posts come at us now. And I’m exhausted already.

  • Tim F.

    Ouch! Even Gillmor doesn’t think Scoble is a journalist or a technologist.

    • http://postrank.com Jim Murphy - PostRank

      Heh, that’s what I got out of it too. :)

  • Kevin C.

    Wow Mr. Gillmor, I’ll second the comment that I didn’t know you could write like that. Very well done and inspired. You could write excellent mystery novels (this is a complement). And thank goodness somebody else remembers The Beatles! Check out “Revolution Take 20”. – kc

  • http://www.modernbizzle.com Ryan Boyle

    Steve Gilmor on Techmeme? What is this? “Only the beginning” indeed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wayne_Schulz/531173044 Wayne Schulz

    Wait, I thought Techcrunch no longer honored embargoes….


    • J

      Exactly what I thought. TechCrunch, bad at obeying their own rules.

    • http://www.rickwebb.net Rick Webb

      My thought as well. I was hoping someone was going to mention that.

  • http://www.onemorebite-weightloss.com Kathryn @ One More Bite

    I too need more to make sense of this post. It’s beautifully written indeed, but where’s the beef? What on earth does it mean? Where’s my link to more…

    You’ve succeeded in creating curiosity and I’m anxious to figure it out, so all-in-all, brilliant post indeed.

  • http://postrank.com Jim Murphy - PostRank

    So what, Steve is using ghost writers recruited from the pool of unemployed Bush administration speech writers?

    • Paul P


      Did you just seriously compare a website user interface iteration to a “Kennedy press conference”?!?!

  • Keith Le Mon

    Unreadable and self-indulgent nonsense once again from Steve Gillmor.

  • http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures Michael Krigsman

    Aside from baroque loveliness, why exactly is this announcement important?

  • http://www.danielbru.com Daniel Brusilovsky

    I’ve been experimenting on how to keep Twitter and Facebook separate, but Scoble’s twitter stream is basically FriendFeed now, and I don’t want that to happen with my stream. I’m actually excited to see what FriendFeed is going to offer! T-1.5 hrs!

  • http://atlaseffect.blogspot.com Doug

    The whole point of communication is to deliver a message. You sir, failed.

  • GregA

    Ok I just listened to several different versions of Get Back by the Beatles, and there was no trilling.

    You guys here at tech crunch dont actually have any fact checkers do you?

  • http://www.carloslorenzo.net Carlos Lorenzo

    Thanks Robert for the reminder about when and where the new release will appear. I was getting lost in the Warholian hyperbole. It was a nice reading any way :)

  • http://www.newmexicopowerball.org/ NewMexicoPowerball

    Thanks for the announce.

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