A mistake by Phillip Mendonça-Vieira created one of the more remarkable artifacts of the digital news era. A task he left running took 12,000 snapshots of the New York Times homepage from September of last year until earlier this month. He strung them together into one incredible video that compresses all the news over the year into one seven-minute opus.
It has been one hell of a nine-month period for news. In October, the Chilean miners were freed. The Iraq Logs broke later that month. Then there was the Republican rout during the midterm elections, WikiLeaks' State Department cable leaks, and the first of a series of massive snowstorms blanketing the northeast.
But it's in January that things really took off. The month started with the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The Arab Spring began with the overthrow of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. Then Fukushima, Libya, horrible tornadoes, and Osama Bin Laden's execution: every one of these events was chronicled on the Times' home page.
In the old days, flipping through the front page of each day's edition of the newspaper could have given you a similar overview. Now, though, the homepage of the paper has become the dominant way that people across the world experience the New York Times. And yet no one is archiving those homepages in the way that A1s used to be.