Links: NYT catching on, Tribune so far behind it makes my webs weep

“The WWW world consists of documents, and links.” — Tim Berners-Lee, in alt.hypertext, 1991.

red light district, by SMN
red light district, by SMN

Why do newspapers publish AP articles online? Why not just link to them? David Cohen says “Stop buying Associated Press articles.”

They are called hyperlinks. They are blue. They are useful. Look Ma’ – here’s an AP story. And it didn’t cost me a thing to link to it!

Money spent on the AP could be money saved and then used for… Innovation!

But, there’s hope! Scott Karp wrote on the Publish2 blog:

The New York Times has certainly embraced blogging, but it was striking to see… just how much they’ve embraced link journalism.

In a traditional newspaper article, all of these facts and analysis would have been synthesized, but the reader wouldn’t have had the opportunity to read for themselves the source material. This post does what journalism is supposed to do — empower people with facts, understanding, and perspective about important issues.

My local paper, the Chicago Tribune, doesn’t just suck at linking, they suck at being a web site. Their documents die. I don’t link to Trib articles because within weeks, they almost certainly vanish.

Ben Estes, editor of chicagotribune.com, spoke to our class last week. When I asked why the links died, he said that it was because they (I don’t know exactly who “they” is… I’m supposing the Trib brass.) don’t want to spend the money on, get this, disk space.

Disk space. Cheap-ass disk space.

Lame.

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AP, Microsoft to share member videos in tiny, useless web interface

The Associated Press announced it will allow AP members to post videos to their Online Video Network for sharing with others. Previously, the content supply was one-way, from the AP only. Microsoft and the AP are partners in the OVN, and will share ad revenues with members that supply the videos.

Unfortunately, it seems that by working with Microsoft, the AP has hobbled their efforts. The video is streamed in the increasingly abandoned Windows Media format, instead of the ubiquitous Flash Video, presumably by Microsoft’s choice.

Adding insult to injury, the widget that AP members put on their web sites to host the videos does not appear to work in Firefox on Mac, Windows, or Linux. It does seem to work in Safari on Mac, and of course it works in Internet Explorer.

Actual size:

Associated Press video widget

The AP justifies this choice on their Browser and Platform Compatibility page, saying that “If a user attempts to access the OVN while using Mozilla’s Firefox (8 percent share), Apple’s Safari (2 percent), AOL’s Netscape (2 percent), or Opera (<1 percent) they will likely be unable to launch and/or properly view the video player. The primary reason for this incompatibility is that the Microsoft’s video player (on which the OVN is built) requires the use of ActiveX controls – a technology that these browsers don’t support.”

By their numbers, 13 percent of web users don’t matter. By better numbers, 22 percent don’t matter. How many people they are dismissing varies by who you ask, but it’s undeniably a lot of folks.

But it doesn’t really matter because the text is so tiny, it’s hard to imagine anyone reading the title of a video and clicking on it before it scrolls away. And if that was not enough to deter viewers: If you’re lucky to be an Internet Explorer user with a magnifying glass and fast hands, you still have to wait through a 30-second commercial before you can watch the video.

Try it for yourself. I hope that the member sites are ready for the deluge of ad revenue.