Monday, March 28, 2011

The other NY Times innovation

I say "other" because I'm not talking about the pay wall that the paper is putting up this week which has received huge attention. I noticed that the New York Times has given more prominence to its personalized recommendation feature (italics mine.) I've been a long time reader of the Times and think it is without a doubt the best newspaper out there. They have tried different content layouts through the years (Select, Reader, etc.) which have met with middling success. And now have moved to give this feature more house banner visibility on it's site.

Recently they have started suggesting articles once a reader reaches the conclusion of an individual article on their site. These suggestions take the shape of banners which slide out from the lower right hand corner of the screen. In my experience, their matching ability to what I have been reading to what might interest me has been pretty good. The suggested articles are fairly topical and relevant to my interests based on what I just read. It is a helpful feature and I find myself drifting from article to article or even rushing to the end to see what it might suggest next.

Now the paper has a compilation of these recommendations in a top 10 list on the right rail of their section front doors (eg Business, Technology, Style, etc.) although I couldn't find it on the site this afternoon. The feature does require authentication, presumably to remember my list rather than collect info about me.  In any case, perhaps they are tweaking it as only two of the ten stories suggested for me seemed relevant. Maybe this is the recommendation cold start problem since I have only read a few online stories recently or there is a kink in the predictive algorithm. In any case, I hope this feature continues as I welcome recommendations from a trustful source who values my time.  We'll see how this story develops over time as they presumably collect more info on my reading habits.

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