NY Times Unsubscriber

The recent switch to digital subscription by the NY Times has me changing my behavior, but not as you’d think.

It happened at the end of the month when I had used up my allotted 20 articles. Initially, I thought about using all three of my emails so I could read up to 60 articles – scared I go over my 20 per month. I know you’re thinking “don’t be cheap”, but it’s not that I am averse to paying, it’s that I am not a subscriber, and probably will never be. I don’t like to subscribe or sign long contracts, because I don’t like to feel hemmed in, it restricts my perceived freedom. This is not because of being cheap, on the contrary it’s probably more costly in the long run, but its worth more to me to know I am not committed to anyone.

Sure, certain services and situations are unavoidable to subscription. Things like mortgages or rent contracts, maybe car payments, life insurance policies, internet subscription, and maybe at some point a phone contract. I am still rocking a pre paid – 3 years strong – but feel that a contract is nigh. But news? In today’s age? Seems incongruous.

So back to my behavior. Recently I found myself scanning the NYT front page more carefully, knowing a click could become a wasted click – I would rather click on something worthy, in other words being a lot more frugal with what I clicked on. Previous visits to NYT would have me clicking freely on anything that piqued my interest. Not anymore.

What has happened?

I now use The Guardian for my heavy lifting, and the NYT for my US centric news. I use the BBC app on my iPad, and skim NYT for headlines.

In other words, LESS reading, MORE scanning at NYT.

So the question would be – will NYT’s loss in my readership (and people like me) be supplemented by digital subscribers?

It would be interesting to see how it develops, because on one hand you would have a lot more page views, and therefore more display ads, and on the other hand, you could lose readers like me, but gain subscribers and their meta data, which in turn could be more valuable in serving targeted ads.

Any thoughts?


Some other users’ behavior changes:

@shapshak reads as many articles as he can to reach his allotted 20, come month end

@JacquesR doesn’t log in and then clears his cookies to avoid being capped

Gizmodo also has some tricks up their sleeve

Niemanlab has an in-depth post about it all

MorseTweet Beta Released


Introducing Twitter on stealth mode:

The first beta version of MorseTweet, an extremely useful tool to communicate via morsecode on twitter, has been released today.

The first morsetweet is thus:

•••• • •-•• •-•• •-•• — — — — |•-•• •- -•• •• • •••


Update (27/4/09):
– Added reverse translation.
– Fixed some minor issues with punctuation.

Some morse code trivia.

And more trivia, morse code was not invented by Samuel Morse:

Morse code vs. SMS battle:

Video: Morse Code vs. Text Messaging

Goodwords – Part 1

I’ve pretty much given up on watching the news or reading newspapers. Yea, yea, we all know that the news is slanted to the bad shit that is going on.

But I’ve been wondering if I do consume mass media, who should I turn to for a more positive slant.

Enter the goodwords project. The idea is simple, I have a list of positive words, I scrape various news sources and see who’s the happy chappies and who are the grumpies.

I’ve been dabbling with this idea on and off for quite a while. And now finally have a bit of data to start fiddling with. I initially was tracking a number of international sources, but lost the data (long boring story). And since I’ve been summering in South Africa and people are so news conscious here, I decided to start here. I’m actually scraping a few times a day, but these initial results are based on midnight editions.

The results are based on a percentage of good words vs the number of total words on the page. And yea, I know words in context can mean different things, but then this was never meant to be scientific. (And I was tracking other papers – such as the Indepent Newspaper Groups Papers – but they changed something on their site and my scrapes have stopped working).

Enough you say, let’s see the results.


Firstly, note the results are measured in percentage of goodwords on a page and reflect only two months of tracking so far.

Well seems, if I did want to read the news, I should stick to the Times and avoid the business newspapers – especially the Financial Mail (kinda expected). However, the financial Mail also has the least words on the page. Google News South Africa has the most (and has Google News recently become a happierplace?). The Mail and Guardian, which used to be the paper I respected the most, has kinda become a bit of a naysayer these days – and the results seem to reflect that.

Here are the top words from all the tracked papers, which probably proves I need to adjust my word list.


I’ve started tracking a number of international newspapers, but it’s too early to have interesting results.

Technical notes:
I am using PHP to pull the data via a cron job into a SQL database, and using Processing to draw the graphs. I am using the SQLibrary by Florian Jenett to pull the database stuff into processing. The code is not so exciting, and kind of messy, but I will keep releasing it anyway. I am generating the source_id's manually simply because I haven't got round to implementing that yet.