Chapter 16. A Day in the Life of the New York Times

Michael Young

Nick Bilton

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED who the readers of the New York Times website are? We have. We also wonder what time of day they tend to visit the site, what devices they use to consume our content, and where they come from. New York, Paris, Boise? We think about all of these questions, from the who and the when to the how and the why.

In the New York Times Research and Development Labs, a simple lunchtime conversation on this very topic led to the development of the research visualization described in this chapter. As you'll see, we started with a very simple collection of location-based data and quickly became engrossed by the amount of data and the potential for visualizations. We eventually created a visualization showing a day's worth of traffic to and on a world and a U.S. map.

The first phase of our exploration began with data collection. The New York Times website can garner hundreds of millions of page views a month, with the number of unique visitors fluctuating between 17 and 21 million. Plus, there are a number of other gateways to our content, including the mobile website, the Times Reader AIR application, the iPhone application, APIs, and much more.

For this particular experiment, we chose to stick with the standard and the mobile version of the website ( We chose to use two sources for simplicity's sake, but even limiting ourselves to these ...

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