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The New York Times’s Latest Prototype: Skimming

Times Skimmer

Newspapers may be dying, but The New York Times has been admirably farsighted in trying to remake the medium. The company’s recent experiments have included remarkable online info graphics and the underappreciated but brilliant Times Reader. The latest experiment: A way to skim the paper online.

So far, there are only two basic commands. Mousing over an article and holding shift magnifies it, so you can read the summary more easily; pressing the space bar jumps to the next section. And clicking any headline takes you to the full article.

In all, it’s not a bad first attempt at doing what online newspapers never have: Providing a way to navigate the newspaper that’s as fast and intuitive as having the physical object before you. It’ll be interesting to see how the functionality develops.

From a business perspective, you’ve got the think that what The Times is really preparing for is the day when tablet PC’s become ubiquitous. At that point, good interactive design will be a real competitive advantage over other newspapers–even the kind that were never printed on paper in the first place.CK