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NY Times publishes documents

More than once here at FGI we have lamented the fact that newspapers have not used the web to link to documents (of all kinds, not just government publications) that they cite. The New York Times is doing a better job of this than most.

I recently realized that they even have a server named documents.nytimes.com. I noticed this when following a story (Army History Finds Early Missteps in Afghanistan, By James Dao, December 30, 2009) about a new, unpublished Army history of the war in Afghanistan.

The report, “A Different Kind of War,” was “written by a team of seven historians at the Army’s Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and based on open source material, it is scheduled to be published by spring.” The Times posted the document online http://documents.nytimes.com/a-different-kind-of-war#p=1 , but not as a PDF or other downloadable format, but as a series of page-images. I would certainly prefer to see the option of downloading the entire document and can’t see why the Times didn’t provide that option. (There are no ads on the pages I viewed, so it isn’t a matter of forcing you to view an ad for every page you read.) Presumably the published version will be available for downloading and preservation, but it would be better if this version was also available for downloading and preservation. That would make it easier for scholars to use now and easier to compare changes when the final version is released.

I also noticed that, if you go to the root web directory of the Times documents web site (http://documents.nytimes.com) you are redirected to http://documents.nytimes.com/atom which is an RSS (actually “atom” — a similar format) feed of documents posted. That is excellent!

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