On a number of recent occasions, I have fallen into déjà lu while reading blogs. A blogger presents a link to a news item that sounds very familiar. Hmm, phosphorescent foraminifera, I think. Didn’t the Times already run an article on them just a few days ago? But the blogger advertises the link as new, or at least fails to apologize for linking late, and so I click through, thinking to myself, It’s unusual for there to be such two articles in short order; maybe this is the week that phosphorescent foraminifera finally come into their own! . . . only to discover that in fact this is the same article on phosphorescent foraminifera that I read three or four days ago.
When it happened once, I passed on in silence. By the fourth or fifth instance, I developed a theory: It must be that these bloggers do not read the New York Times, not in print anyway, and do not expect their readers to. They read bloggers who read bloggers who read the New York Times, and when an article underplayed on the web but worth reading anyway trickles down to them three or four days after publication, they perceive it as a neglected gem that they must rescue from obscurity. Not as yesterday’s news.
That was my theory: uncharitable, pessimistic, gloomy. But now I have a puppy, and all is right with the world, and now I understand. It isn’t that these bloggers fail to read the New York Times for themselves. How silly! It’s that they have puppies! Like me, four or five times a day, they find themselves opening a section of the Times that they don’t usually open, for the sake of the kitchen floor, and happening upon articles they would have loved to read if they had been in the front section instead of in Escapes, such as “Where Greek Ideals Meet New England Charm,” a lushly illustrated tour of shareholder libraries of nineteenth-century vintage, or in Business, such as “Book Lovers Ask, What’s Seattle’s Secret?”, an analysis of Seattle’s role as tastemaker in the literary ecosystem. And once you discover these interesting articles, you often find that your puppy too has noticed them, as it were, and the web edition of the Times, kept pristine by its lack of functionality in that department, really comes in handy.