The latest New York Times (NYT) digital feature: TimesPeople, a social network for Times users. Good news: You’d have to look pretty hard to find similarities between it and Facebook or MySpace.
In its current, beta form, TimesPeople is mostly a few features tucked into a Firefox browser tool bar — not the bloated set of messaging features and status updates that you’d find on most social networks. Think of it as a personalised edition of the “most e-mailed stories” list, plus comments from people you know. You can also display stories you’ve shared on your Facebook profile; no word on Friendfeed or Delicious integration yet.
Future versions won’t require Firefox; we take that to mean that the features will be built into the NYT Web site and won’t require a separate plugin. Either way, we appreciate that it’s not flashy or gimmicky; it fits well with the rest of the Times’ image.
Will TimesPeople bring in new readers? Probably not many. But it could get people to stay on the site longer by giving them a list of stories that their friends have recommended, which they might not have found on their own.
TimesPeople is the latest in a string of good digital add-ons by the NYT – most recently, they introduced TimesMachine, an ad-supported archive of papers from 1851-1922, and allowed users to read stories via text message.
Update: The NYT’s Derek Gottfrid points out in comments that TimesPeople members will have RSS feeds of their activity, which can feed into FriendFeed.