NY Times To Open Its Grand Old Archive

    March 3, 2005

David Weinberger breaks the news of the news, where the NY Times will open its grand old archive in the form of definitive topic pages.

Supposedly this will provide a linkable reference at the time in which all media moves to linked formats. He rightly contrasts this with the trend of linking to Wikipedia articles as definitions, as well as the risk of imposing cost when readers seek trust.

But I have to wonder if any major move in the name of search engine optimization is simply. Just as the market flocks to abundance (or scarcity) because of arbitrage conditions until the opportunity is saturated. It also cedes the advantage of direct navigation, perhaps too early.

The web, and how it is indexed, does not reward first mover advantage. It rewards the latest advantage. Especially as weblog search engines and market demand are driving indexing towards real time.

Blogs do not reference the past, or definitive topics, enough, quite frankly. An obsession of new is only trumped with now. Media does seek a mainstream and trusted resource to link to in definition, but they are, after all, competition.

But really, the NY Times has no choice. They must move to open the proprietary when a juggernaut of open interpretation of history marches at pace. This move seems partial, which leaves open the opportunity for others, but is a test of brand longevity that may serve the mainstream before they realize their opportunity to participate in the movement itself.

Regardless, they should be applauded for the move. It will be a great resource, and it’s better than naught.

Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.