As the Guardian celebrates its 50,000 edition I noticed that the 100 year-old version (see left) is very different to its current paper version in design, but curiously similar to a RSS feed aggregator page.
It has the same level plane which allows the reader to decide what is the most important story, simply assembling news on separate pages which you have to filter and organise for yourself.
In that sense it highlights how online functionality is in some ways still behind the old technology. As I discovered trying to read the new one-section Independent on Sunday, newspapers are brilliant for flicking through until you find something you want to read. Unfortunately, the Sindy has nothing I wanted to read and so I quickly returned to my PDA and my Netvibes RSS aggregator page….
Online journalism has many advantages over its paper version, but it still needs to work much harder at usability. Newspapers took a century to work up the ultra user friendly objects we now have. News websites and blogs will have to work a bit quicker than that if they are to celebrate 50,000 editions.