I’m not sold on NYTimes.com new feature, TimesPeople, a social tool designed to share your activity – reading, rating, commenting – with other NYT members. If you’re a recent reader of NYT, you’ve probably noticed a floating bar appear above the content that prompts you to sign up for it.
Here’s an excerpt of the description from the FAQ:
…when you recommend an article, comment on a blog post, or rate a movie or restaurant, these activities will become visible to other TimesPeople users in a special toolbar at the top of every NYTimes.com page. You’ll also have a personal page that keeps track of your TimesPeople activities and lets you browse your network of readers.
The problem, as I see it, is that I’m not solely the selector of what information gets disseminated. And that is what is really at the core of the social web; It’s not automation, spewing every action I take for friends to consume and filter through themselves (unless you have a sophisticated filtering mechanism like Facebook’s wall). It’s about happenstance, finding and sharing that amazing article, restaurant review or inflammatory comment that you know certain friends will appreciate.
And the legwork (registration, adding friends, etc) to do that in a new tool is just not worth the time it used to be. Why not leverage the friend network I already have on Facebook? An app on Facebook that does the same thing would involve less investment and probably have more reach. I’m on Facebook more than I am on the Times, which would be the only place I could see my friend’s browsing activity using this tool. Ed. note: There is a Facebook application that works with TimesPeople.
Regardless, I’ve always had respect for the New York Times and what Khoi Vinh’s team has been doing for online. I wish them the best success at it but as a daily reader myself, you won’t see me signing up anytime soon.