The Daily: Indexed

Anybody else think it’s weird that The Daily, News Corp’s new iPad-only magazine, posts almost every article to their official website… but with no index of the articles to be found? They spent $30M on it, but apparently forgot a homepage. (That’s a joke, people.)

So I went ahead and made one for them! Introducing, The Daily: Indexed

Why did I do this? The Daily’s publishing free, web-based versions to every article, but without an index, it’s (deliberately) hard to find or link to the individual articles from the web. And since the iPad app only carries today’s edition, it makes finding any historical articles you’ve paid for nearly impossible.

I love that this kind of experimentation is happening in journalism. I love journalism dearly and want to see new models emerge, and charging for content is a great way to align a media organization’s interests with those of its readership. That said, if you do charge for access, you can’t publish free versions to the web and hope that people don’t find them.

I’m also very curious about their reaction. This isn’t illegal or a copyright violation — all I’m doing is linking to the versions they’re publishing on their site. The ability to link to any webpage without permission is part of what makes the web great, and it should never be discouraged. It’s also worth noting that Google’s slowly indexing all the articles too, and search engines aren’t blocked in their robots.txt file.

But I’m still recovering from a legal nightmare last year (more on that soon), so if asked to stop publishing and delete the Tumblr, I will. (Lawyers: My email address is at the top of this page.)

In the meantime, enjoy!

(Special thanks to Rex Sorgatz for the inspiration.)

Update: At The Daily’s press conference, editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo addressed the question of public sharing on the web.

“For the pages in the application that we can do it, we create mirror HTML pages. Those pages are out there on the web — they can be shared, they can be searched, you can find them out there… We know there are billions of other people sharing content on the web, and we want to be part of that.”

Thanks to Ryan Tate for the video.

February 4: Some people seem to have been a bit confused by my original post, so I edited it a bit, explaining a bit more clearly why I made this. I never thought that The Daily actually forgot to make a homepage/index; that was tongue-in-cheek. I also added a comment answering some of the frequently asked questions about the project.

34 thoughts on “The Daily: Indexed

  1. This is just incredible unethical. You are providing means to prevent content creators from selling their content.

    What would you have TheDaily do? Remove sharing?

    Do you really believe that the people who spend valuable time creating content, should not be able to be compensated for their work? Are you not a journalist? Should people have a way to read your content, without paying you?

    There is a very good reason why TheDaily does not have an index page. The articles on the web are there to reward subscribers, by allowing them to freely and openly share specific articles with their friends.

    The articles are not published on the web to give freeloaders access to the content for free!

  2. I guess the complaint they’ll use will be 8(k) in their ToS:

    [You agree that, while using the Services, you shall not:] modify, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble any part of the Services, whether in whole or in part, or create any derivative works from any part of the Services, or encourage, assist or authorize any other person to do so.

    Nice site you’ve made, but can’t see it being allowed to stay for long.

  3. Great idea but The Daily is nothing worth indexing. If anyone wants news they have to look elsewhere. It pretty, sexy and “cool” but its the NY Post on the iPad, its not a “news”paper. Its definitely not worth 99c a week since I cant stop subscribing from other sources.

  4. Thanks for this. It’s a great idea. I can understand why The Daily would prefer to bury the links to the free web versions of the articles. But I appreciate your efforts to collect them.

  5. They clearly want it to be a iPad-only experience, though that’s not the most conducive to social sharing. They put the articles online so if you share an article on facebook from the iPad app, your friends can still view it online. (Notice the default text at the top, “This article has been shared from The Daily iPad app”?) Seems like this may have been a feature thrown in last-minute to facilitate sharing. They’re idiots if they didn’t think that someone like yourself has the know-how to quickly index all the articles and get them out to everyone. Once again proves that old media folks are clueless with this stuff! Nice try, Murdoch and co.

  6. I suspect that the lack of an online index is quite deliberate, not inadvertent. They certainly WANT search engines and social sites to find their articles, they just don’t want to give content away free. They feel that the omission of an index is the delimiter between giving the stuff away free and lacking any online presence/linkability.

    Put yourself in their place. You want to have a presence online, but you don’t want to give away the store, either. What would you do?

  7. The lack of a comprehensive table of contents in the app itself is so bizarre, it’s very difficult to know what’s in each issue unless you actually page through each section.

    I don’t think there’s any legal risk to linking to each day’s articles. I suppose they might argue that you’re infringing on their trademark and that someone might be confused by the URL and name of the site (despite the obvious disclaimer you’ve included).

  8. Thank You! I got to say, I was looking at it this morning, and it was very irritating to try to find articles in the sections that interest me.

  9. If it were published in the EU then they might consider a C&D based on alleged infringement of the barely-understood, much-debated database right. Be thankful you don’t have such a dumb law in the States.

  10. Thanks Andy, the app on the ipad blows, as it is slow and takes for ever just to change page views. Would much rather be on a web page than that horrible app. $1 per week? yikes…

  11. It’s interesting how it all came together. Methinks the powers that be will be contemplating what the further ramifications will be. Alas, poor Yorick! LOL

  12. Is there any reason you are linking to the articles using bit.ly? This seems like an unnecessary indirection and assuming that bit.ly won’t be around forever chances are that most links from your index to The Daily will die eventually.

  13. “apparently forgot a homepage!”

    That’s not too far away from “apparently Infocom forgot to publish their emails!”, is it?

  14. Phew, all these comments were locked up in MovableType’s spam jail and I never got notified. Sorry about that, everyone!

    Okay, to answer the most common questions:

    1. Anyone can grab the URLs straight out of the iPad app by clicking the “Share by Email” button, but I wrote a tool to streamline the process. I’d rather not elaborate, because they might try to close the hole.

    2. It’s using Bit.ly URLs because that’s what The Daily uses for all of their sharing URLs. I could expand all the URLs, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

    3. I haven’t heard from News Corp. yet, but their publisher made a statement to the New York Times yesterday. “It’s not surprising that people want to share our content, but The Daily is designed for tablets, with a lot of rich media and a litany of interactive features and functionality. We are confident that as readers get to know our content, they will be driven to the full, authentic experience.”

  15. Creative job, well done! And funny/interesting/sad to see, that also top bloggers in the us are quite often misunderstood.

  16. Hmm. I’ve gotten a “Content only available in the app”-type message once or twice, easily worked around by changing the User Agent in Safari to “Mobile Safari – iPad.”

  17. it seems to me that mr murdoch has completely failed to grasp the internet, & the way it empowers the individual, over the top down “lecturing” of the old institutions (church, media, politicians etc)

    he seems to think that putting a traditional style newspaper on a modern device will maintain his status as a media mogul. forgive me if i’m stating the obvious (or completely wrong) but it’s dinosaurs like him & his outlets that are being swept away by modern technology, he is yesterday’s man & should step aside and/or invest his money in younger ventures

  18. Thomas Baekdal – Seriously … maybe – just maybe – you should come join the 21st century. Unethical – pfft – please. You have to deal with reality as it is – plain and simple … they can not have it both ways. They are trying to force the internet to conform to how we USED to do things … when an environment changes – you adapt or you die .. period. These entities believe that they can force the environment to support them the way they want to be supported (making millions off of the hard work of others).

    Content ‘creators’ often don’t get what their content actually makes because some other entity profits first … the internet has leveled that playing field – and it will destroy the old model in the sense that you have a few making exorbitant amounts off of the work – like say Rupert Murdoch? … yeah … I think it’s a good reality check … the internet will level it … they keep trying to make silos … we’ll keep routing around them. 😉 … have a nice day in Jurassic Park ..

  19. It is easy to be critical of the old business model. Remember that at some point it was the new model, one that lasted quiet a while. It is funny that none of those screaming for free content, free OSes, free everything, are NOT earning their daily bread (read: slaving 12 hour shifts, 7/52) from the stuff they demand for free. For sure the internet demands a new model and it is an equaliser. And most will adapt. So let’s see: Ubuntu is “free”, after a millionaire hires a large team and gets all sorts to help pay up front. Interesting…

    Maybe it is simply in the value proposition, and those that see value will pay, and those that want it for free, will steal. O, right, nothing new in that model.

  20. Keep up the great work!

    I don’t have an iPad, and would gladly pay a buck a week for access… but until they open up a web option, this blog will have to suffice.

    Thanks again!

  21. Like any software project with a deadline(read, all software) TheDaily app has deficiencies. But as it matures, those deficiencies will wane.

  22. Totally agree. They’ve already addressed several of the biggest issues that popped up after launch, including stability and speed fixes. If you only tried it when it launched, I definitely recommend giving the update a try.

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