Today an announcement that the NY Times has added a feature to their home page called Watching. It's a linkblog, pointing into the NYT, at fresh news, articles in development, stuff that hasn't made it to the home page yet.
It occupies a corner of the home page. I think that eventually they'll make it the whole front. We know now that the home pages of news sites like the Times, when they are set up like the front page of a print newspaper, are something most users skip. I always have. I've had the Times in a river since 2002 (actually before that, we found a back door to their syndicated content). Why should an online news site be organized the same way a print home page is? It shouldn't.
Want to know how I get my NYT news? It occupies its own panel in my personal river of news (its redesign was released yesterday, a coincidence).
I would love to have a lab like the NYT, with its millions of readers, to play with. It's painful to watch their slow evolution, when you're sure you know where it will end up.
This is big clue to the future NYT, there's a reason why people like to get their news from Twitter instead of the home page. We like chaos. It's the same reason news people like to watch the stories come in over the wire. A sense that you've found the pulse. News should be like that. The print front page was a necessary accommodation to the way the news product was manufactured before the net. Today it's purely vestigial. Get rid of it, you're almost there, now go the whole way.
PS: Looks like the Times sort of had a river on AOL back in the 90s.