Point, Click, and Tell No One

A brief interlude to document (and praise) a discovery we made last night while frittering about on the Times’ Website. Double-click on any word in any article and you’ll get a pop-up window of reference material: usually a definition and some synonyms, but also, in some cases, an encyclopedia entry, a map, and a weather forecast. There are twenty different categories in all, including entries from Peterson’s Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals and the U.S. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. The function is powered by Answers.com, and it was launched last September. (We must have missed that press release.) But who knows about it? Not the PR person at the Times we talked with. Rob Larson, a VP at NYTimes.com, admits the feature was instituted “quietly.” No idea why, although it’s far from perfect: Clicking on “street” in one article produced an entry on the English architect George Edmund Street. But we can’t fault its simplicity, or the Times’ indulgence of our lazier selves. —Tayt Harlin