Andy Baio has produced a swift, elegant index for TheDaily.com, the companion site for the new News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). iPad app. It’s a real service to people trying to find Daily stories online and fills a gap the staff decided to leave wide open. But it’s not The Daily online.
The online versions are what people see when someone shares a story from The Daily. (Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to share in-app links with fellow app users.) Not everything is available, the formatting isn’t the same and the elements that are iPad specific don’t work.
For instance, app users getting Thursday’s issue see the same snow picture on the cover but the app version pans in and can be viewed, enlarged, in its full glory. The only page of the Gossip section that can be shared is the cover; trying to share another gossip text page brings up a “sorry” message that it’s only available in The Daily app. Today’s Ben Roethlisberger sports cover carries an “fyi” on the site (see below) that it’s missing some content. In this case, it’s not missing a lot. The story is intact but some features like the poll and Twitter widget are app only.
What’s really missing is the impact. Reading The Economist on a Kindle loses a bit of presentation but the guts, the text, is all there. The Daily is designed to be an intact experience — and each shared story comes with a note that suggests downloading the app for the full interactive experience. Some of the stories may stand alone (and they should), ditto for some of the video and pictures. It’s meant to be a package. Is it succeeding as one? Two issues in, too soon to tell.
But, as currently designed, it’s an ephemeral experience. Baio is creating an archive of what’s available. The Daily doesn’t offer anything close. If you want to look back at a feature from the debut edition and didn’t save it, the only shot is a shared story or one that shows up in search. (That would be online search — the app itself lacks a search function.) The same thing happens tomorrow when the new edition downloads. As far as I can tell, there is no way to retrieve an issue or store it. I’ve asked The Daily what the plans are for archives and will update as warranted.
Baio has promised to stop the index and delete it if News Corp. asks. They shouldn’t. Beyond the legal points, the index won’t take the place of the app for people who might want it; it’s mostly an access point for those who don’t or subscribers whose needs it isn’t filling.