The Daily - Free on Tumblr, Light on Features

By February 04, 2011
News on the iPad

Just-launched iPad news service The Daily has disappointed readers for a few different reasons - lack of organization and archives, as well as an absence of social features that are now indispensable for modern publications.

News Corp's new iPad magazine has only been out since the second of February, but its contents are available on an independent blog. As programmer Andy Baio explains, the articles are posted to The Daily's Web site, but it does not collect content onto an index page - "They spent $30 million on it, but apparently forgot a homepage!"

So Baio made the index page himself, "The Daily: Indexed," and published it on its own Tumblr account. Without an index, archived articles are inconvenient to find, but since the web-based version is free, linking to the articles is legal.

The journalist/programmer makes it clear that he will respond to any takedown notices, and has no interest in legal disputes. Public sharing is seen as a vital part of contemporary digitally-based publishing, and an under-utilized part of The Daily. As Silicon Alley Insider's Jay Levy laments, "Basic tools such as deep social integration, game mechanics and real localization are missing from The Daily." In its present form, Levy describes it as an optimized news Web site, much like any other newspaper app, such as those from the Wall Street Journal or CNBC.

But this news platform assures its users that it encourages social integration of its content. Baio's update quotes The Daily's editor-in-chief, Jesse Angelo: "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."

While Baio’s solution to a technical problem may encourage some to skip the subscription fee, other interested readers may decide instead to try it before they buy the $1 per week publication.

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