Archive for the ‘’ Category retires its Times File bookmarking service

December 22, 2008 is today retiring its Times File service.  Times File is a tool that allows you to save articles into an online library for later reading.  You’re not restricted to content either — you can save any URL to Times File.

An email communication to Times File users states that,

as of Dec. 22, 2008, we are removing the ability to save articles to Times File from pages, and on Jan. 21, 2009, we are removing Times File from the site entirely.

The email goes on to note the proliferation of social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Digg which are available through the Share tools, and which in effect duplicate the functionality of Times File.

Is this decision to divert resources from Times File to other areas of the site an economic one?  How much maintenance, hardware, capacity or bandwidth could Times File have possibly used?  I’d like to see some statistic for the usage of Times File — perhaps it’s being turned off through lack of take-up.  This seems unlikely, as they only recently released their Community API and surely this service could have been bound in and exploited through that?

Reading further into the email, it becomes clear that the service was provided by a third party, LookSmart (watch out, they have a Flash intro) — a publicly traded company.  LookSmart probably costs money, and a fair chunk of it.  If other social bookmarking sites are available for free then why not use them?  I think it’s a smart move from — outsource those things that don’t contribute to making your offering unique.

Another slant on this is that’s recent manoeuvres towards the forefront of online journalism and publicly available data would soon have rendered this service inadequate and underwhelming.  Interestingly, they’ve opted to go with Furl if you decide you want to export your currently stored Times file data, rather than either of the two sites they cite as contributing towards the redundancy of Times File: Delicious and Digg.  I wonder what business decisions were involved there?


Represent from gives New York City residents information about their elected representatives

December 21, 2008

Represent, a beta product from, provides detailed information on New York City’s elected representatives, from the city Council to the Senate, similar to what has been doing for a while now.

Nice touches Represent provides include:

This site is a powerful combination of public data and’s own content, and I imagine it will soon expand to include all representatives on a national basis.  Yesterday Jeff Jarvis argued that,

“national papers – especially the Post but also the NY Times… – could become the Washington bureau to the nation’s papers, saving them all money, giving them all the flexibility to redirect staff (reporters and editors) to local coverage, and giving their readers the best coverage.”

This move certainly puts them in a strong position to do that, but in a way it also bypasses what Jarvis calls ‘reverse syndication’ and provides the information to anyone who wants it.  I couldn’t find an RSS feed for it or any API, but I’m sure that will follow.

Represent was created by Andrei Scheinkman, an interactive developer for, and Derek Willis, a member of its web development group.  Derek Willis has written an interesting blogpost on Represent and GeoDjango — ‘…the part of Django that makes spatial work easy enough that even I can manage it’.  He also gives some informaton on how Represent came to be.  It was the result of,

“…[a New York Times] internal technology challenge. We ended up being a finalist with our entry, which became the app you see today, thanks to design work by Stephan Weitberg and advice from a lot of folks.  Since Andrei and I both liked Python, and the contest asked for a working prototype, we built Represent using GeoDjango…”


UPDATE :  Represent now has RSS feeds available.