The Power of Profiles

I visited the New York Times today and saw this at the top of the front page:

Nytimes_front_page

For those of you with good eyes, that’s my avatar on the upper left and that top banner is something that is called TimesPeople. It’s a profile based service for sharing stories with friends and colleagues on the New York Times website. TimesPeople also has a facebook app which I installed today.

This is an important step for the Times to take. Back in March 2007, I wrote a post called “All Software Should Be Social” where I said:

I can barely use software that doesn’t have other people in it. I want
profiles and faces and connections. I want to see what others are doing
with the software. I want to connect and be connected.

While I am sure the people who work at the New York Times think of themselves as a content company first and foremost, what goes on at the New York TImes website is as much about software as it is about content. And slowly but surely the Times online is becoming social software. That’s a big deal.

TimesPeople has been talked about a bit in the blog world since mid-June but honestly I had not used any of the tools until they magically appeared at the top of the home page this morning. My favorite of the tools is the “Live Feed” shown below:

Times_live_feed

Talk about the feedization of the web user interface, we’ve got one now running at the New York Times. I think it’s great to see the Times embracing social software concepts like profiles and feeds. I hope they take it a step further and connect all of this to the social web, beyond Facebook, to blogs, comments, tweets, and so on and so forth.

If you want to give it a try, go to the home page of the New York Times, look for the bar a the top, sign up, and connect to me. I am fredwilson.

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