or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

New York Times x2

   December 11th, 2008 Brian Herzog

New York Times front page from July 29th, 1974Yesterday must have been National New York Times day - I learned two news ways to access articles from the NYT, completely coincidentally.

The first way was the arrival of a book I ordered for our Reference Collection, The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages: 1851-2008. The oversized book itself is 300+ front pages from significant days since 1851, and it also comes with every front page contained on a set of DVDs.

Of course, the first thing we did was look up our birthdays, and so far no one was born on a significant day. But we found them in the very easy-to-use, PDF-based, DVDs. No special programs need to be installed, everything worked first time, etc.

Which makes me more comfortable having this book in the Reference Collection - people don't need to take it home if the DVDs work flawlessly on our computers, and the PDFs are ready-formatted to print on 8.5"x11" paper. Reading them is easier electronically when you can zoom in, but the book also comes complete with magnifying lens.

The second way was through Google News search. Not that I was surprised, but I had just never noticed before that Google News added "Archives" links to the left side of the search results page. Clicking into the 1800's, the matches were for-pay links into the Washington Post, but also free full-text links into the NYT. I knew the NYT had made their archive available, but having their articles show up in a context search like this is very useful. Plus, when you click through into the story, there is a link for a PDF version of the original newsprint, which I think qualifies as a primary source.

So, a good day for historical research using the New York Times.

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   October 26th, 2006 Brian Herzog

R$$: Really Simple SurchargeWhile at NELA last weekend, I attended a session by Linda Braun, who talked a lot about RSS feeds. One of the tools she presented was PageFlakes, which I had never seen before. During her talk, she kind of offhandedly commented that one of the reasons she likes PageFlakes is that it lets her save stories she wants to read, but doesn’t have time to save at the moment. That way, the text of the article gets stored on the PageFlakes server, and, obviously, she can go back and read them later.

She then commented that this is sort of a loophole to subscription news services, like the New York Times. The NYT provides free access to their stories for 14 days, but stories older than that require a subscription fee to read. However, by saving the stories on PageFlakes, she creates her own archive, and never has to pay to read older stories she had saved before they were 14 days old.

I found this interesting for two reasons: first, I like loopholes. Second, though, it made me wonder about RSS feeds, which I think most people take for granted right now (if they know about them at all). But what if RSS feeds go the way of bank ATMs - something that started out as being a free service provided by pretty much all the major players, and then, after people incorporated them into their lives and essentially became dependant on them, were suddenly no longer free (at least, to use another bank’s ATM).

So right now I can get NYT articles for free through RSS, but I don’t see it as unfathomable that they would see this as a viable way to make money in the future - after all, people pay for convenience, and RSS feeds are much more convenient than visiting their website every day.

nela, new york times, pageflakes, rss, technology, web 2.0

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