Earlier this week, I saw a tweet from the @nytimes with a link to an article titled “A History of New York in 50 Objects”. It seemed like an interesting concept, finding just 50 objects to compile a history of a city as historic, complex, and unique as New York, so I decided to investigate further and read it. What I found was a short article, listing the 50 objects, accompanied by 50 pictures of the objects. The reader can click on each photo to enlarge it and also read a lengthy caption that explains the history and significance of each object.
This, to me, seemed like a great start to incorporating multimedia elements to the article, but I felt that The New York Times missed out on an opportunity to create a truly great multimedia piece. It was a semi-interactive piece in that readers can pick and choose which of the 50 objects interest them and then learn more by clicking on the photo, but it was essentially still just an article with text and pictures.
One of the objects chosen to represent New York’s history was a “Tonight Show” audio track from 1962. This would have been the perfect place to include audio or video. Perhaps a sound clip of Johnny Carson on the show. Or a video of “The Tonight Show” over the years from Johnny to Jay.
The mask from “The Phantom of the Opera” was another object. Yet another instance in which video or audio could have been used (Phantom is a musical, after all, with a score that would make for great audio).
September 11, 2011 is a significant aspect of New York history and so, understandably, a jar of dust from 9/11 was yet another object on the list. Links to other article, other photo albums, interviews, or video could have been included here.
Though an interesting concept for an article, I was rather disappointed by the piece. I think The New York Times could have done so much more with it in regards to utilizing multimedia, but missed the opportunity.