The Power of Profiles

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


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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Comments (Archived):

  1. Ed

    I’m not surprised that you’d recognize this, or be featured.But you are correct in my opinion. The first time I got to dig into the web in some years, we were about to hear”Web 2.0″. I was recuperating at home alone. The more I checked out newor exploding sites/software/web apps, the more I wanted to be connected whileI engaged. And the more I wanted to listen and affect those erstwhile communities and theirtools. But as I regained the ability to walk (sort of), and with it, some of my previoussocial contact, the desire to interact online didn’t wane, it became part ofmy dialog with offline friends.Off Topic: Fred, have you seen significant views form the Times front page feature?

  2. robzand

    i would like timespeople much more if it integrated with my existing network(s)

    1. fredwilson

      ExactlyThat’s the next thing they have to doThe facebook app is a start

  3. Emil Sotirov

    I couldn’t find out how to recommend articles… and I see Fred already recommending two…

    1. fredwilson

      there’s a recommend checkbox next to or at the end of the articles

      1. Emil Sotirov

        I may not see it because I have no followers yet…Update: I now see the box on some articles… but it looks like “checked” by default… because it is an image “icon” of a checkbox. It should look and function as a real checkbox – unchecked by default.

  4. Dave Goldberg

    I signed up for TimesPeople as soon as I saw it appear on the homepage. I too am happy that they have made a move in this direction, but I am shocked at the limited features they offer.First and foremost: Why can’t you comment on articles that you recommend?

    1. fredwilson

      Agreesd. I wanted to do the same thing this morning

  5. Jevon

    I would love it if we could use timepeople contacts as an initial scope for comments, etc. I am interested in what those around me have to say about an article.Using Google Reader to share/comment accomplished this sometimes., but I think there would be a lot of power for the Times if they pulled it in to the site.

  6. kskobac

    i think this is really great – it brings more life and personalization to the “recommended stories” that show up across news sites, usually based on which articles are read more in general. however, i have to wonder – reading any given article at a moment, anywhere on the web, there are now so many places to submit to that it’s beginning to get overwhelming. i’ve never really gotten into submitting to digg as much as i’d like because it’s time consuming, not just a 1-touch unless you’re voting up someone’s article based on a button. how can these social news sites and social layers on traditional sites work together to share the submissions and the ratings, so that we don’t have to ‘recommend’ and ‘favorite’ and ‘digg’ and ‘submit’ on every article? Or is there a way to do this that i’m missing?

  7. kenberger

    It’s certainly a start.- As you say, they are these days, by necessity, more of a software service than origination source. I consume their content from a variety of places that I visit anyway (Netvibes, etc). I never go to their website, unless i’m forced to login to read something, and I’d like to keep it that way. The Facebook app, as the other comment says, may become that, though I’m not impressed enough by what’s there now to make a habit of coming back to the site a lot.- It only works if I turn off my browser’s adblocker. A painful premise w/ that site !- They also have a service w/ LinkedIn,