The New York Times has announced a free personalization service called MyTimes. (The “cleverness” in the name becomes more apparent when you remember that the common abbreviation—and URL—for the paper is the NYTimes. )
The Times’ First Look blog lists MyTimes as in private beta in the main text, and describes it as a
personalized service [which] makes it easy for you to read all that you like, from one central place. You can further personalize your my Times page by adding up-to-date weather information of your city, movie showtimes in theaters near you, or display your favorite flickr photos. We are constantly adding more widgets to my Times, so make sure you keep checking this blog.
The sidebar, with updated posts, explains that MyTimes entered open beta on Monday.
The default widgets include New York Times headlines and stories, picks from their staffers, their most e-mailed articles and news from other sources, including Yahoo and the BBC. You can also add content to your personalized home page, including RSS feeds for any site.
With a drag-and-drop layout to enhance personalization, MyTimes is reminiscent of many other services out there, including Pageflakes and Netvibes. MyTimes also features the ability to add multiple pages, (eg if you wanted a separate page for news, work-related readings and personal reading).
I think this offering is well-suited to an newspaper’s website. Newspapers have become increasingly concerned with getting pageviews on- and offline. While national papers like the Times have had less of a struggle, it certainly wouldn’t hurt them if hundreds or thousands of their loyal readers made my.nytimes.com their default homepage and news aggregator. And news aggregation certainly dovetails well with the New York Times’ long-established purpose—and the reasons that visitors come there in the first place.
At the very least, it’s unlikely that MyTimes will meet with the same revulsion that USA Today’s redesign incited.