I suspect not a lot of readers of this blog are also subscribers to NYTimes.com’s Times Select, a service that allows access to the Times’ opinion and editorial columnists, access to up to one hundred articles per month from the archives, access to special, Times Select-only blogs written by guest journalists, and assorted other goodies. It’s a pretty divisive feature, I know, and I’m not trying to sidestep the arguments against it here — but today, under the heading of “assorted other goodies,” we debuted a new, monthly feature from the legendary illustrator and designer Maira Kalman which I think is pretty great.
On the first Wednesday of each month, Kalman will publish a new set of her quite amazing drawings and paintings in an “illustrated column” called “The Principles of Uncertainty.” There are six of them posted today, and they’ve already garnered over seventy reader comments posted to the page, which, I think, is pretty amazing for pay-only content.
In general, I’m pretty enthusiastic about illustration appearing just about anywhere on the Web, so I’m very happy about this. It’s unique, somewhat unexpected stuff, literate and playful at once, and one of the reasons I came to work at The New York Times. You could make a pretty convincing argument that “The Principles of Uncertainty” is made possible only through the particular economics of Times Select; it’s Web-only content that might otherwise be a tough sell to advertisers (as part of Times Select, it’s advertising free). But I’m not trying to invite a critique of the service. Really.