The Times of London Archive – Olde is New

I found the recent release of the Times of London archive very interesting. Almost all news agencies are focused on using the internet to have “up to the minute information”, thinking that that is the main reason that readers go online. Others, are adding commenting and bookmarking abilities to their sites, creating a community around their news.

But – the Times of London took it a step further. Instead of being simply “up-to-the minute” or community focused like everyone else, they are also using the internet as an archive. The archive is very complete, allowing users to search on news from 1785-1985. You can search on stories, ads, classifieds Picture_24and more.

As a marketer, I have an big interest in classic advertisements – especially cigarette ones since it shows how our views and our acceptances of these products and their promises have changed over time. I executed a search in the archive on “cigarettes”, refined it only to ads in the 1950s and found this one, about how Rothman’s was building the most state of the art factory in the world in Canada, while shipping in cigarettes to the workers to keep up with demand. What a different historical perspective on that one product.
With my interest in the History of the French Revolution, I did a search on Marie Antoinette for the year of her be-heading, (1793). I found this article, which describes what she was wearing that day, and
how some young people dipped their handkerchiefs in her blood. Wow -
what details!

Picture_23I think this is a wonderful use of the web. In not only their idea of putting the archive online, but also their execution, with the search capabilities and refinements.

I wish that more organizations would think this way. Instead of simply executing “the latest and greatest” thing, the same way as as everyone else, they would think strategically: “what is unique about my organization, and how can it be leveraged on the web?” The Times of London found that with their archive. It is a shift of perspective that could be a huge benefit for even the most traditional organizations who want to gain a strategic advantage through the web.