September 13th, 2006 by Hugh
The Times Reader, which will soon be released as beta software, is a souped-up version of “real” paper by way of tomorrow’s web technology. The application attempts to provide an onscreen reading experience that is as familiar as the printed page, only more versatile and interactive.
I find it quite hard to get a feel of what the Times Reader will be like from Wired’s description – but it seems that you will able to browse a frequently updated RSS feed like a newspaper, from the front page to the back, and the pages will refresh immediately. In essence, it will look and feel like the paper edition of the New York Times. The reader is being built with Microsoft’s latest technology. It will take advantage of Windows Vista’s new visual capabilities. There will be a service pack for Windows XP that will enable it in advance of the much delayed new operating system.
Microsoft’s efforts in this direction have already been attacked by blogger Jeff Jarvis. He believes that news should (and is becoming) disaggregated, in the sense that you can hop from one news provider to the other for each story. This is what Google News is doing. It’s breaking up the hierarchy of news publishers.
Still, it seems to me that nothing on screen yet beats the enjoyment of reading a real newspaper. And I’m somebody who spends a good chunk of my day using an RSS reader. I jump around the “disaggregated” world of news because I’m scouring for stories. It’s what I call “work”. I still buy a morning newspaper, and enjoy my half an hour of peace and quiet on the sofa with the “real thing.” What bothers me most about print is that the price keeps on going up – otherwise I would probably buy more than one newspaper. But there’s no way that I’m going to sit at my hot computer for pure relaxation – unless, that is, the Times Reader is really very good. I’ll let you know when I’ve tried it.