A walled garden falls

The New York Times is opening up their website, ending a two year experiment in charging for online content.

Despite the fact that they had over 250,000 subscribers and their subscription revenue was over $10 million dollars, in the end The Times decided they could make much more with online advertising than with keeping the lock on the door. Which really says something about the state of online advertising these days.

It was also interesting to read this rather naive quote from Vivian L. Schiller, who is the senior vice president and general manager of the NYTimes.com site.

“What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others,” Ms. Schiller said.

Your kidding, right? The senior vice president of a major web property like The Times didn’t realize that search engines drive traffic? Doesn’t that strike you as odd that someone in such a position of authority at a major online property in the media publishing business failed to understand one of the most basic web marketing truisms that search engines drive traffic – lots and lots of traffic – to web sites? I’m missing something in her statement.

For academics and researchers the most exciting part of the announcement might be the fact that they are opening up their archives.

…The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free.

Not sure why the material from 1923 to 1986 is still locked up, but nonetheless the thought of being able to freely access articles and data from The Times via their website should make research a little bit easier.

As a fun little search, I searched the term “internet” from 1981 on to see when the word first appeared in the NY Times and it looks like the date of the first mention of the internet is November 5th, 1988 in an article about a computer virus called “Author of Computer ‘Virus’ Is Son Of N.S.A. Expert on Data Security”. This is really early days as the virus is in quotes and doesn’t even have a name. They simply refer to it as ‘virus’. Fun. And note the number of computers in infected.

The program eventually affected as many as 6,000 computers, or 10 percent of the systems linked through an international group of computer communications networks, the Internet.

Less than 20 years ago there were only 60,000 computers on the internet. Crazy. Today there are probably 60,000 computers in my neighbourhood.


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.