Buckling under information overload?
The long view can be soothing, as filmmaker Josh Begley proves in just under a minute, above. The data artist reduced 165 years worth of chronologically ordered New York Times front pages—every single one since 1852—to a grid of inky rectangles flashing past at lightning speed.
Instead the impression is of watching something—or someone—steadily bearing witness.
Obviously, any reputable new source does more than simply note the unfolding of events. Its readers look to it as a source of analysis and critique, in addition to well-researched factual information.
The Gray Lady, as the Times has long been known, has recently weathered an uptick in slings and arrows from both the left and the right, yet her longevity is not easily dismissed.
Blogger Jason Kottke watched the video with an eye toward some of the paper’s most notable design changes. His findings also remind us of some of the historic events to appear on the Times’ front page—Lincoln’s assassination, Nixon’s resignation, and the election of our first Black president, which it described as a “national catharsis—a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies.”
How many of the over 50,000 front pages featured above were deemed personally significant enough to squirrel away in a trunk or an attic?
Have digital archives decreed that this practice will soon gasp its last, along with the print media that inspired it?
What will we use to wrap our fish and line our bird cages?
Read the New York Times 2012 (non-front page) coverage of Apple’s rejection of Josh Begley’s Drone+ app here.