When faced with a variety of social media tools that allow users to share content in a variety of different outlets, none of which are owned by the originator of said content, what’s a media company to do if it wants to try and reclaim some degree of ownership over the dissemination of its intellectual property? If you’re the New York Times, the answer seems to be found in the adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Introducing ‘Compendium,’ the NYT’s attempt to allow its readers to curate their own version of the paper.
According to the Compendium “About” page, the new service offers readers their “turn” in creating “rich and compelling stories on all manner of topics.” It goes on to explain that Compendium “invites readers of The New York Times like you to use articles, imagery, videos, and quotations to tell your own stories using New York Times content,” with “[e]ach collection [having] a description that you can use to introduce the collection as a whole, and each item in your collection has a place for you to describe what was important, interesting, or funny about it. Once created, you can share your collection or link to it from anywhere.”
All that is needed to start using Compendium is a Facebook or Twitter account; users use their login/passwords from one of those social media accounts, and then add the Compendium bookmarklet to their browser, and then they’re ready to add whatever NYT content they want to their Compendium collection (Clicking the bookmarklet while on an NYT page brings up a pop-up with options on the extent to which the particular page should be shared – Entire article, selectred quote(s), images or video – and to what collection in particular it should be added to, along with a box for the user to add their own text).
If this sounds more than a little familiar, it’s likely because it shares more than a few hallmarks with Pinterest, except with more of a focus on written content (Understandably, as that is the main currency of newspapers even online). Compendium has been developed by the New York Times Research and Development Labs as a way of competing with existing ways of sharing NYT content while keeping it under their own roof, so to speak, but it’ll be interesting to see to what extent (if at all) it catches on. After all, part of what make other content aggregator services so popular is that they aggregate content from multiple outlets, not just multiple stories from one outlet. Doesn’t the idea of making this kind of thing so specifically niche that aggregators only draw from one place kind of miss the point of their appeal altogether…?