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NYTimes.com Tests My Times

The New York Times confirmed it began beta testing a service called My Times this week.

Five thousand NYtimes.com subscribers were selected to try the product, which allows readers to select from a variety of syndicated content modules to place on one My Times home page.

The content modules range from top New York Times stories to the latest articles from daily sections, to unaffiliated blogs and online publications, selected by New York Times editors and reporters.

It's a pre-fab feed aggregator.

My Times is the New York Times's latest addition to their NYTimes.com property and another attempt at solving some of the many problems facing publishers today as they try to monetize their content online.

One of the latest of those issues has been dealing with syndication technologies, such as RSS.

Syndication technology is convenient for readers because it lets them bring all their desired content to one place in a feed aggregator, such as Ask's Bloglines.

It's an increasingly popular technology publishers must contend with.

According to Ask.com, subscribers to Bloglines jumped by 300 percent between June 2005 and June 2006.

The trouble for publishers is that it is hard to include advertisements in syndication feeds.

Aggregators are constantly reading the feed distorting the "impression" numbers publishers use to determine how much to charge advertisers.

"People think about RSS as a double-edged sword and that's definitely true," Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief of Wired News, told internetnews.com.

"It changes the role of the news provider. You need to manage it very carefully to be successful," he said.