Fresh off of my personal note on why I prefer to read newspapers offline, the New York Times has just launched a product that renders my main points out of date; the new Times Skimmer has filled the gap that I saw, bridging online and offline newspaper reading.
The Times Skimmer is a web app that brings the New York Times to you in one of seven ways, in their words:
- Stories displayed in a grid;
- Content displayed based on editorial ranked feeds;
- Headlines displayed in a list;
- Content presented in the classic typeface Helvetica;
- Content displayed against a black background;
- Headlines and brief summaries displayed in a wrap-around format;
- Headlines, bylines and brief summaries displayed in a design similar to word magnets for refrigerators.
Each format provides a unique experiences, which will fit a certain subset of their readers. Personally, I think that this is the biggest and most useful change to come to news online in the last year. Allow me to explain.
Reading news online is perfect for the headline grabbing type, who needs nothing more than a few words. But if you want to get a good view of the world, the experience was a bit spotty. I pointed out before that when I read a physical paper, I read more and more broadly.
The Times Skimmer fixes that, by providing news layouts that provide the incentive to keep reading, and make it dead simple to do so. I know prefer the Times online, to the paper edition. If only the WSJ had something similar.
Now, most technologists have been advocating stopping the printing presses for some time. I have always been a touch hesitant, as the format for reading newspapers offline has been perfected for decades, and the method for online news is damn new. Was there enough online to match the offline expertise?
There wasn’t, until now. With the Times Skimmer, the online experience now matches the offline. We can finally make the move. Go play with the Skimmer, it’s amazing.