I'm a fan of much of what the New York Times is doing to try and reinvent their business. Their porous paywall means that their content remains a part of the sharing and search ecosystems, expanding their reach, and ensuring that their content is still seen and discovered by a global online audience that doesn't play by legacy geographic restrictions (I never used to to read the NYT but now reguarly do), and new generations of users (a news organisation's content and product is surely it's best form of marketing). They are continously experimenting with new editorial (and not just the recent, well shared and rather wonderful Snowfall) and commercial formats. And not behind closed doors with focus groups but live and in public. They've created a whole series of groundbreaking visualisations and interactive graphics. They have established a catalogue of APIs (one of the few publishers that have). And they're not afraid to create an app that has its own editor, aggregates content from third party sources, not just their own, and then close it down when its time has come and take the learnings rather than try and morph it into something else. Take a look their IdeaLab for a list of both newsroom and advertising innovations that few publishers can match.
All that should be applauded. But I'm a little more wary of their latest initiative to bring entrepreneurs into their headquarters "to refine and grow their business". timeSpace is a four month programme that enables startups to work out of their office, meet NYT staffers, and demo their products. I can appreciate that in doing this the NYT wants to soak up a little of that entrepreneurial spirit and method. But does it make as much sense for a startup to soak up some of the big company culture that will surround them? Wouldn't it make more sense for them to be surrounded by other startups? Maybe, as Dave Winer suggests, the NYT would actually be better hosting a bunch of great bloggers instead.