The New York Times has launched a new platform called beta620 for testing and collaborating on experimental NYT projects. “For years,” the article notes, “the NYT’s systems and technology team has had a blog, Open, where they’ve shared data and coding projects with the public. But Open primarily targeted other developers, particularly those using the NYT’s data APIs to build their own tools. beta620 is aimed at nytimes.com’s broader readership. It’s a chance to test how new prototypes work, generate community input, figure out how they can best add value to the company, and build and iterate on the fly.”

It continues, “Everyone knows that those are the stakes. We’ve seen this already with Google Labs: fun engineering projects that don’t make money or make the company’s core products better will ultimately get axed during wartime, even among famously permissive outfits like Google. The NYT’s developers know that it’s not enough to show; they also have to prove. ‘I just added a feature to Longitude that deployed about fifteen minutes ago,’ Evan Sandhaus says. Between beta620’s launch Sunday evening and speaking to me Monday afternoon, the first piece of community feedback has come in for beta620’s interactive news map: It’s awkward to always pan across the global map to browse news at different places. Longitude needs a search bar. Done. Now the search bar auto-completes to any place that’s tagged in the app.”

The article goes on, “Sandhaus is the Lead Architect for Semantic Platforms and Longitude’s primary developer. He splits time between the NYT’s internal Research department and its Digital Operations team; both divisions contribute to the app. He’s got a bit more history to grapple with than a 1998 crossword applet: 150 years of hand-coded metadata, listing people, places, organizations and descriptors for every story in the NYT’s archive.”

Read more here.

Image: Courtesy NYT