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Monday, June 30, 2008

New York Times adds social networking

The New York Times has added some social networking capability to its site with the introduction of TimesPeople.

A Firefox add-on currently in beta, TimesPeople lets users create lists of friends and see a 'news feed' of the stories their friends are recommending, sharing and commenting on.

The Times describes it as, "A new way to discover what other readers find interesting on our site — and to make recommendations of your own. With TimesPeople, you can share articles, videos, slideshows, blog posts, comments on articles, and ratings and reviews of movies, restaurants and hotels."

A nice touch is that users get a page which aggregates their activity and it has an RSS feed - so you can show the world what you're reading on the New York Times by incorporating the feed into your blog or perhaps lifestreaming applications such as FriendFeed and Tumblr.

NY Times readers have been able to comment on stories and rate reviewed restaurants and movies for some time but recommending is new according to Caroline McCarthy, who reviewed the feature on CNET News:
TimesPeople members can also push their updates to their Facebook profiles by syncing the two. And if you'd rather just be an observer, you can subscribe to friends' updates on while leaving your own feed updates turned off.

Many print publications have been working on social-news projects, primarily by partnering with existing sites like Digg. Conde Nast's Wired Digital went ahead and acquired Reddit. Critics might say that by building a social-news technology in-house, the Times is hurting itself by not tapping into the user base of an existing site.

But here's the catch: while content is free, it requires a log-in to read more than a story or two at a time. The Times, consequently, has millions of user accounts already on file.