What if there was an award to honor those information providers or libraries (or even librarians) that most epitomized the Collections 2.0 philosophy? Well, stop wondering, baby! Because it is right here! The shiny new Collectuo Award, bestowed every once in a while by your beloved blog, Collections 2.0.
And the first every-once-in-a-while award goes to…The New York Times! [momentary editorial lapse: even if they did hire William Kristol as an op-editorialist!]
While some …er…”commentators” are whining about the “Internet Killing Our Culture,” [I mean Andrew Keen NOT Michael Gorman!] the New York Times digs in and offers a mind boggling array of 2.0-headed services. Rather than buckle under Keen’s depressing news that the “Web 2.0 revolution is decimating the ranks of our cultural gatekeepers,” NYT just rolls up its sleeves and out-blogs the bloggers, out-YouTubes the YouTubers, and generally out-2.0s anybody who ever thought about getting their wiki on. What the folks at NYT have realized is that 2.0 isn’t just about the amateur hour taking over. It’s about using tech tools to reach people in multifarious ways; it’s about creating a platform that lets individuals interact with information in the ways that are best suited to them.
Just to enumerate some of NYT’s 2.0ness:
They have offered email notifications for several years. To that they have added over 70 RSS feeds that let you slice and dice your news any number of ways. They also offer alerts wherein the reader can be notified about stories containing very specific keyword combinations. All of the email, feed, and alert services are easily configured through your own individual profile.
As an adjunct to the regular news, NYT also deploys dozens of blogs that let NYT staffers write a little less formally about issues. (Ok, some of the blogs are just repackaged features stories.) Readers can talk back to any of these blog posts, and to many regular news stories and editorials as well. NYT also gives data about who is blogging their articles (using the blogrunner site).
NYT is not just about print news either. Aside from still photography, served up in elegant and stimulating slide shows, they offer a smorgasbord of podcasts, videos, maps, and other interactive features. The folks at if:book think NYT interactive tools are “fantastic.” Videos by technology writer David Pogue are a personal favorite.
The online layout of NYT, although dense and compact, is both diverse and user-friendly in the way it presents stories and offers navigational assistance. The indexing and pathfinding systems are redundant but aesthetically pleasing, to entice you into stories no matter your learning style or how your eye reads the page.
NYT is out there in the social networking realm with profiles in YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook (and probably a few other places I haven’t noticed). Their Facebook page is a wonder of design and function.
Did I mention that all of these online services are free…to anybody? NYT does offer some paid services on the web. Their Times Reader is quite a nifty interface for the paper (would that it were free). In recent months they’ve even thrown open their archive, which used to be a pay-per-use kind of affair. Now readers can find information from 1851-1922 and 1987 to present without spending a red cent.
The collective intelligence that is NYT has decided that best way to continue to exist is to adopt a 2.0 mentality. Because it’s all about the data, baby, and letting people do stuff with it! They have also demonstrated that even in this hands-onny world, people do look for quality. For that I salute them and present them with the first ever Collectuo Award! Here Here!
If you know of a deserving Collectuo candidate, let me know. Let there be many more every once in a while in the future. Remember, this award is not just for being 2.0, it’s for being Collectuo!