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The decision by the New York Times to open up for general reading the formerly for-fee TimeSelect parts of its website is being widely discussed. The rationale given is interesting.
Since we launched TimesSelect in 2005, the online landscape has altered significantly. Readers increasingly find news through search, as well as through social networks, blogs and other online sources. In light of this shift, we believe offering unfettered access to New York Times reporting and analysis best serves the interest of our readers, our brand and the long-term vitality of our journalism. We encourage everyone to read our news and opinion – as well as share it, link to it and comment on it. [A Letter to Readers About TimesSelect – New York Times]
This is another indication that discovery happens elsewhere. The material is currently not available to people who come to the website, but more importantly it is not available for crawling, linking, quoting, commenting. It is not open to the web. The website is not the focus of a user’s attention: the web is, and for material to be discoverable it must be open to the ways in which web users discover and share materials …. elsewhere.
Incidentally, I was struck by the comment that the online landscape has changed significantly in two years. That’s two years!