New York Times announces Times Machine

The New York Times building (new style)

Yesterday I got a great tour with my cell phone of the new New York Times building. While there I met some of the top geeks behind the New York Times and they told me a few things and showed me some interesting stuff.

In the Research and Development department they showed me:

  1. A prototype newspaper rack that could print out a custom version of the newspaper.
  2. Tons of gadgets, including a cool thin book reader following a discussion of metadata that the New York Times is collecting. They have these gadgets so they can develop new ways of delivering content to those devices. In this video they announced a Mac version of the Times Reader, coming “within days.”
  3. New York Times articles showing up on Google Earth while in their digital living room.

Then Stacey Green of NYT’s PR team took me up to the Boardroom where I got to see lots of famous photos and showed me the hallway where they have all the pictures of everyone at the NYT who has won a Pulitzer Prize — it’s like walking through history.

But my favorite interview was getting to talk with Architect Derek Gottfrid, who told me about this thing called Time Machine which is an archive of old issues of the New York Times that you will be able to look through — he gave me a good demo of it in the video I filmed. He told me how they used Amazon’s EC2 service to convert all the TIFF images to PDFs for this project. Then he also told me that Times Machine would be released Wednesday (tomorrow). Derek and his fellow coders keep a blog, by the way, which is most excellent for developers. I’ll watch for it to be released and will post the URL Wednesday evening after I get home (I’ll be flying most of the day on Wednesday).

Hope you enjoyed this little look around the “gray lady,” which is what staffers there affectionately call the New York Times. One thing they gave me a tour of, but asked me not to take video or photos of, is the newsroom. What an impressive place.

How impressive? Well, just check out what’s in the lobby. Hundreds of these little displays. Every few seconds they all change and show a different quote from someone famous in history as quoted in the New York Times.

68 thoughts on “New York Times announces Times Machine

  1. Instead of PDFs – why cant they make it HTML
    PDFs take too long to load and the text quality is blurry….
    Does anyone really like PDFs – they are a pain in the ass

  2. Instead of PDFs – why cant they make it HTML
    PDFs take too long to load and the text quality is blurry….
    Does anyone really like PDFs – they are a pain in the ass

  3. Scoble said: “Brian: did you watch the videos?”

    To be honest, no I didn’t. I frankly find them unwatchable based on your interviewing style. Nevertheless, I do find it ironic you pimping the NYT given your position on “old media”.

  4. Scoble said: “Brian: did you watch the videos?”

    To be honest, no I didn’t. I frankly find them unwatchable based on your interviewing style. Nevertheless, I do find it ironic you pimping the NYT given your position on “old media”.

  5. A group of us met with some BD people from The New York Times back in February 2005 for a Kellogg School of Management Media Trek. NYT didn’t understand the changes taking place around them then and it seems they’re just beginning to turn the boat around (maybe). Not saying this will allow them to survive long term (80% of their revenue today is print so they have capital) but they need to start seeing this at a higher 40K level…….just because they use some of the latest Web tools doesn’t keep them ahead of the new media curve. I’m a Northwestern Medill/marketing grad so I’m not looking at this with a $$ mindset rather something that allows them to capture an audience emotionally. What you do with Qik and what fastcompany.tv is doing would bring them to that place a lot faster. Everybody wants to be part of New York, no matter where you live. NYT just doesn’t get that aspect with some of what they’re doing. (if this makes sense)

  6. A group of us met with some BD people from The New York Times back in February 2005 for a Kellogg School of Management Media Trek. NYT didn’t understand the changes taking place around them then and it seems they’re just beginning to turn the boat around (maybe). Not saying this will allow them to survive long term (80% of their revenue today is print so they have capital) but they need to start seeing this at a higher 40K level…….just because they use some of the latest Web tools doesn’t keep them ahead of the new media curve. I’m a Northwestern Medill/marketing grad so I’m not looking at this with a $$ mindset rather something that allows them to capture an audience emotionally. What you do with Qik and what fastcompany.tv is doing would bring them to that place a lot faster. Everybody wants to be part of New York, no matter where you live. NYT just doesn’t get that aspect with some of what they’re doing. (if this makes sense)

  7. Brian: did you watch the videos? Did you see a newspaper being done anywhere? I didn’t. Everything was on screen, on top of Google Maps, etc.

    Newspapers are dead. The New York Times isn’t a newspaper anymore in my mind.

    Oh, you should have seen their video studio.

  8. Brian: did you watch the videos? Did you see a newspaper being done anywhere? I didn’t. Everything was on screen, on top of Google Maps, etc.

    Newspapers are dead. The New York Times isn’t a newspaper anymore in my mind.

    Oh, you should have seen their video studio.

  9. I’m confused. I thought you were one of the crowd that was convinced newspapers are dead? Why spend the time at the NYT, then? Just for the name dropping aspect.

  10. I’m confused. I thought you were one of the crowd that was convinced newspapers are dead? Why spend the time at the NYT, then? Just for the name dropping aspect.

  11. I would definitely recommend reading the blog they have. They just published a post going into a bit of detail (maybe not enough for me :) about how they created the data for the Times Machine. Very cool use of Amazon EC2 and Hadoop etc.

  12. I would definitely recommend reading the blog they have. They just published a post going into a bit of detail (maybe not enough for me :) about how they created the data for the Times Machine. Very cool use of Amazon EC2 and Hadoop etc.

  13. See, our dead-tree Gray Lady can still show her stuff, eh?! I read that leftwing blog at nytimes.com every night for free at 12:01 am when it refreshes, it has great stuff these days, including the podcasts and blogs.

    And the very BEST thing about it is that you can now write in the comments and nearly instantly publish if you are registered, instead of writing a 250-word Letter to the Editor and waiting for days for them to get back to you if they will use it. They actually still have the Letters page though and it is still important. Even though you can see the Times online, I still buy it some days just because it’s nice to hold something flexible besides a mouse in your hand or lie on the couch with.

    Every time I go by or into that Times building, I wonder if they are actually done building it — it seems unfinished and weird. The old building was more classic and had all kinds of old architectural features. I remember back in the 1970s, you could still hear the typewriter carriage bells dinging and cries of “copy”. Then it got very, very silent later in the late 90s with rows of computer terminals. There were some columnists that still wrote out stories in long- hand on yellow legal pads and called them in over the phone in the 2000s.

  14. See, our dead-tree Gray Lady can still show her stuff, eh?! I read that leftwing blog at nytimes.com every night for free at 12:01 am when it refreshes, it has great stuff these days, including the podcasts and blogs.

    And the very BEST thing about it is that you can now write in the comments and nearly instantly publish if you are registered, instead of writing a 250-word Letter to the Editor and waiting for days for them to get back to you if they will use it. They actually still have the Letters page though and it is still important. Even though you can see the Times online, I still buy it some days just because it’s nice to hold something flexible besides a mouse in your hand or lie on the couch with.

    Every time I go by or into that Times building, I wonder if they are actually done building it — it seems unfinished and weird. The old building was more classic and had all kinds of old architectural features. I remember back in the 1970s, you could still hear the typewriter carriage bells dinging and cries of “copy”. Then it got very, very silent later in the late 90s with rows of computer terminals. There were some columnists that still wrote out stories in long- hand on yellow legal pads and called them in over the phone in the 2000s.

  15. Translation: Blah blah blah, I am so cool, I got an insider look at an famous dead tree paper, mind you, I don’t actually read newspapers, everything is ONLINE, I mean, RSS, Blogs, Twitter, like, who has time for newspapers? But well, they are doing COOL stuff, I got to see it all, you didn’t, you aren’t that important, you know. But thank your lucky stars that I am here to bring it all to you. Blah blah blah. God loves me more, but I give back to the little people, check out all this advertorial self-serving stuff, from my shaky out-of-focus cell cam. I almost got a journalism degree, you know. And the NYT geeks blog and pay attention to me, they get it. I mean, what’s the point of a universe without me at the center? Blah blah blah.

  16. Translation: Blah blah blah, I am so cool, I got an insider look at an famous dead tree paper, mind you, I don’t actually read newspapers, everything is ONLINE, I mean, RSS, Blogs, Twitter, like, who has time for newspapers? But well, they are doing COOL stuff, I got to see it all, you didn’t, you aren’t that important, you know. But thank your lucky stars that I am here to bring it all to you. Blah blah blah. God loves me more, but I give back to the little people, check out all this advertorial self-serving stuff, from my shaky out-of-focus cell cam. I almost got a journalism degree, you know. And the NYT geeks blog and pay attention to me, they get it. I mean, what’s the point of a universe without me at the center? Blah blah blah.

  17. I’m skeptical of their intent to implement this stuff. After all, aren’t their blogs both UNPAID (to the writers) and WP.com technology rather than proprietary?

  18. I’m skeptical of their intent to implement this stuff. After all, aren’t their blogs both UNPAID (to the writers) and WP.com technology rather than proprietary?

  19. Scoble, do you have any technical details on how they used the Amazon services for their Time Machine?? Or is that “closed” source ?

  20. Scoble, do you have any technical details on how they used the Amazon services for their Time Machine?? Or is that “closed” source ?

  21. Any pictures of Jayson Blair along that wall of fame?

    The New York Times? Really?. What’s next? A trip to Florida to visit the National Inquirer?

  22. Any pictures of Jayson Blair along that wall of fame?

    The New York Times? Really?. What’s next? A trip to Florida to visit the National Inquirer?

  23. SearchEngines: because PDFs let you do features than HTML doesn’t let you do. HTML can’t render the pages as they originally were.

    Ben: thanks for fact checking that. Yeah, you were right. I don’t know why I was thinking old instead of gray. My mind is going…

  24. SearchEngines: because PDFs let you do features than HTML doesn’t let you do. HTML can’t render the pages as they originally were.

    Ben: thanks for fact checking that. Yeah, you were right. I don’t know why I was thinking old instead of gray. My mind is going…

  25. Instead of PDFs – why cant they make it HTML

    PDFs take too long to load and the text quality is blurry….

    Does anyone really like PDFs – they are a pain in the ass

  26. Instead of PDFs – why cant they make it HTML

    PDFs take too long to load and the text quality is blurry….

    Does anyone really like PDFs – they are a pain in the ass

  27. Interesting stuff. I didn’t know NYT was trying out all that stuff.

    Thanks Robert!

    ps. I thought they called the NYT the “gray lady”, not the “old lady” (?)

  28. Interesting stuff. I didn’t know NYT was trying out all that stuff.

    Thanks Robert!

    ps. I thought they called the NYT the “gray lady”, not the “old lady” (?)

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