The New York Times is launching the public beta of its TimesPeople social network this evening, an offering we first reviewed earlier this summer.
In the morning, readers of the NYTimes.com will see a new toolbar at the top of the home page and most NYTimes pages. They’ll be able to register and join TimesPeople for free and start sharing recommendations and comments with fellow Times readers immediately. They’ll also be able to view public activities of other members.
Users will also be able to share ratings and reviews of movies, Broadway shows, restaurants and more. Here’s the member’s home page where you will see a live feed of activities by TimesPeople members and what they’re sharing and saying:
All members will have profile pages which will show their public activities as well as the activities of other network members and lists of people they follow and those that follow them just like on Twitter. They’ll also be able to sign up for RSS feeds with the latest activities of other users and sync their updates to their Facebook news feed through a TimesPeople application. There’s even a Digg-like section on the home page that shows all of the top NYTimes news items as voted by fellow TimesPeople members.
Naturally some people will be concerned about security and privacy matters regarding their activities on the NYTimes website. The good news is that TimesPeople will NOT monitor standard site activity such as reading articles, clicking links, or viewing graphics. These activities as well as e-mailing articles or videos will remain private.
Over all, TimesPeople is a well-designed service for loyal NYTimes readers who want to use social networking features. While the concept and execution are on point, one gets the feeling that a better idea would be to have a social network for newspapers that wasn’t dedicated to just one source, in this case the well-respected NYTimes. Perhaps users would be better served if they could subscribe to other newspaper sites much as they can with RSS readers and share comments and stories that way. Maybe call it The PaperBoy? In any event, if you love the NYTimes then you should enjoy TimesPeople.
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