The New York Times opened up its vast archive some time ago with the launch of TimesMachine, an open archive where readers can browse old issues from 129 years of the paper’s history. But the TimesMachine lacks one ability and that is to search old advertisements, since these have not been scanned and identified. In other words, it is nearly impossible to find old ads without browsing manually through old issues.
To solve this, the paper now launches Madison, an online tool where readers are invited to help out by finding, tagging and transcribing ads.
“We have 163 years of what is often referred to as the first draft of history, and I think one of the areas we’re interested in is finding new ways to bring that archive to life,” said Alexis Lloyd, creative director for the R&D Lab.