The Times thinks outside the browser to create a readable online newspaper.

Media criticism.
Sept. 19 2006 6:41 PM

The Times Thinks Outside the Browser

Finally, a readable online newspaper.

(Continued from Page 1)

TheReader's search function is as speedy as all hell because, once again, all the stories are stored locally. The search results produce a box for every story, with bigger boxes assigned to stories considered more relevant to your search terms. This visual clue makes grazing search results easier. Overall Reader navigation is remarkably simple and, dare I say, intuitive. The beta doesn't have very many ads in it, so I also expect the Times to get more aggressive about putting pitches in my face. I can live with that.

For a beta release, the Reader runs very nicely. Some sections of the paper, such as the Magazine, classified ads, the regional Sunday section, etc., have yet to migrate to the new platform. The crossword puzzle, tricked out with a few multimedia tweaks, is on the way. At present, the program stores a maximum of a week's worth of Times content at any given moment—jettisoning last Monday's edition when you load this Monday's. I'm sure there's some business reason for limiting storage to the last seven days (plus whatever you've saved to hard disk), but I hope the paper changes it. As a devoted reader, having a year or two of easily searched New York Times on my hard drive would be a real selling point.

Did I say selling point? I did. The major reason I unsubscribed to the print edition of the Times, which costs $621 a year in Washington,and started reading the Web version was because the Web version is free. (The TimesSelect columns and features on the Web cost $49.95 for nonsubscribers.) I've used the Times Reader for only a couple of days, but I've found it superb for keeping track of what I've not yet read and for commute reading. People have stopped me on the subway to ask me what I'm reading. I'd be willing to meet the Sulzberger family halfway and pay $310 a year for a souped-up version that offered much more storage. What's not to like? I suspect that in six months I'll feel slightly embarrassed about having written this mash note—not because my instincts are wrong but because the platform will have evolved in a way that makes this beta look primitive. Until then …

Advertisement

******

If you're interested in the history and uses of typography, see this white paper by Microsoft's Bill Hill. Disclosure: I worked for Microsoft between 1996 and 2005, when it owned Slate. They had the deep pockets to which I refer above. The Washington Post Co. became my employer when it bought Slate from Microsoft. The Post Co. has deep pockets, too. It just pretends to be broke. From time to time I write book reviews for the New York Times. Send your disclosures via e-mail to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.