Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NYT Design Director Tom Bodkin Doesn't Like This Whole "Internet" Thing Very Much.

It seems that NYT assistant managing editor Tom Bodkin, who's in charge of design at the newspaper, has a slight tendency to bore people -- especially when he's waxing nostalgically about the great old days before that infernal "Internet" came along and ruined everything for print.

At a session last Saturday on "Designing The Future of The New York Times" at the SXSW conference in Austin, Bodkin -- described by one person in attendance as "about 130 years old" -- devoted most of his talk to a remembrance of the days of heavy metal, when he wasn't dissing technological advancements in the newspaper industry.

A followup appearance by Khoi Vinh, design director of, wasn't much better, apparently, and eventually became so dull that people just left.

This report comes from an entertaining British website called "made by many" that offers caustic, witty commentary on all things digital by Tim Malbon, a British web designer who has worked on The Telegraph's website and blogs, among other ventures.

An excerpt:

The talk was astonishingly boring and backwards-looking, as web-hating Design Director Tom Bodkin droned on and on about a glorious past that quite frankly no-one was there to hear about, starting with his college days which were a very long time ago (Tom seemed about 130 years old). Tom, the clue here was in the title of your talk - the “future” of The New York Times.

A full 20 mins of the hour were dedicated to Tom’s slides from the heyday of hot metal. He managed to dis Razorfish in passing - the agency charged with channeling his ‘genius’ during the website’s redesign a couple of year’s back. He then set about ripping up the Web medium in general for a ‘lack of innovation’ before claiming the NYTimes website didn’t support serendipitous discovery as much as the paper product: a claim so ridiculous that I checked my ears to see if they were working properly. I say ridiculous for the simple reason that the online experience provides billions of hyperlinks that allow one to move from today’s top stories through extensive archives and related content on a fairly joyous journey of discovery in a way that the paper product simply does not.

In case you doubt the accuracy of Malbon's observations, you may want to note the 10 comments (so far) of other eyewitnesses who agree with his assessment, and note Bodkin's apparently well-known tendency to bore audiences with his backward-looking philosophy. ("I think [Bodkin] may be one of the few people I’ve seen/heard/communicated with who actually thinks that there needs to be more one-way communication on the Internet," one commenter observed.

Click here for details -- available only on the "Internet"!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bodkin's biggest accomplishment was cutting the "Boldface Names" headliners off at the jaw line rather than the shoulders.