Luke Wroblewski posted three videos of concepts for tablet readers. I had already seen the Time/SI video, but not the others.

Sure, the Kindle has made leaps and bounds already, pushing with it a whole market of similar readers trying to catch up. But there is still a long way to go, I believe.

I was particularly stuck with the video from Bonnier demonstrating their Mag+ device. It’s worth checking out.

The thing I particularly like about this research is their starting point. The folks at Bonnier state right up front that it’s about understanding the overall information experience first. They say:

The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading, which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reading experience in which high-quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.

From the video, it seems they’ve designed the concept with close attention to the details of offline reading experiences. For instance, they mention the importance of the physicality of offline magazines. Covers, for one, do more than just communicate a title–they are visual icons we identify with. So they’ve designed the notion of a “cover” into the device

Another thought I quite like is the notion of completedness, or knowing where you are in the magazine and how much more you have to go. Offline, we get a sense of this as we flip through magazines; that is, we can feel if we’re at the beginning or end of a publication. So the researchers added information about position in the magazine to the Mag+ reader to account for this.

Note that accounting for elements of offline reading experiences doesn’t necessarily mean reproducing them one-to-one. The researchers at Bonnier get this. For instance, they criticize the sometimes-seen interaction of turning pages by pulling the corner of the screen and then having the “page turn” animate. Instead, they prefer the more digital-medium-ready interaction of scrolling.

Assuming many of the concepts explored in the videos are realizable–from technical, business and experiential standpoints–the forms of reading experiences represented in these three video can change publishing as we know it. It’ll be interesting to follow how tablet readers develop in the next few years.

SlideCasting: 99% Good

29 July 2007

The smart folks over at SlideShare came up with a powerful new service for the site: SlideCast. Haven’t used it yet, but it looks to be fairly simple and a good idea overall.

Personally, I never considered PowerPoint to be evil. It’s just another tool the communicate. Sure, it can be used wrong, and it has it’s own style of communication, but any medium does. SlideCasting looks like it will make posted slide decks much more powerful.

If you have experience with SlideCasting, let me know what you think.

Infomavores in America

15 June 2007

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently released a study called A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users. The introduction opens with a rap about Web 2.0, but the study has a stronger focus on use of information gadgets and appliances.

Some interesting nuggets of wisdom from the report: 27% of all respondents said they feel overloaded, and 67% of all respondents said they like having so much information available.

8% of Americans are deep users of the participatory Web and mobile applications.

And then there are key categories of users they came up with–the typology. I’m not sure I get all the distinctions here. Seems like too much overlap to be really useful.

  • Omnivores: 8% of American adults constitute the most active participants in the information society, consuming information goods and services at a high rate and using them as a platform for participation and self-expression.
  • The Connectors: 7% of the adult population surround themselves with technology and use it to connect with people and digital content. They get a lot out of their mobile devices and participate actively in online life.
  • Lackluster Veterans: 8% of American adults make up a group who are not at all passionate about their abundance of modern ICTs. Few like the intrusiveness their gadgets add to their lives and not many see ICTs adding to their personal productivity.
  • Productivity Enhancers: 9% of American adults happily get a lot of things done with information technology, both at home and at work.
  • Mobile Centrics: 10% of the general population are strongly attached to their cell phones and take advantage of a range of mobile applications.
  • Connected but Hassled: 9% of American adults fit into this group. They have invested in a lot of technology, but the connectivity is a hassle for them.
  • Inexperienced Experimenters: 8% of adults have less ICT on hand than others. They feel competent in dealing with technology, and might do more with it if they had more.
  • Light but Satisfied: 15% of adults have the basics of information technology, use it infrequently and it does not register as an important part of their lives.
  • Indifferents: 11% of adults have a fair amount of technology on hand, but it does not play a central role in their daily lives.
  • Off the Net: 15% of the population, mainly older Americans, is off the modern information network.
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