Building The Perfect Beast

Reading, Writing, Wanderlust, and Commentary

Archive for the ‘Books’ tag

Allergy to Originality

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My film is chock-full of unlabeled images that make cultural, artistic and literary references. Additionally, the two main characters are modeled to look like the Russian filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein. I hope this piece is at least unoriginal in an original way or perhaps even originally unoriginal.

An interesting little film about originality and whether or not there really is any such thing. 

Allergy to Originality

Written by Jeffery Battersby

August 1st, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Summer Reading Flowchart

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Awesome!

Summer Reading Flowchart: What Should You Read On Your Break? | via teach.com

Summer Reading Flowchart

Via Teach.com and USC Rossier Online

Written by Jeffery Battersby

June 8th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Asides

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The Best 100 Opening Lines From Books

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Great fun!

The Best 100 Opening Lines From Books | via stylist.uk.com & @natashabadhwar

Written by Jeffery Battersby

November 13th, 2011 at 8:18 am

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What I Don’t Like About The Time Magazine App for the iPad

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I don’t subscribe to Time. Never have. Never will. I’ve been more of a Newsweek U.S. News kind of guy over the many years of newsmag reading I’ve done. (I could, here, indicate that I am an Economist kind of guy too. I don’t really read that magazine either, but it has a pretentious enough feel to make me seem like something other than I am.) I was, though, recently encouraged by a friend to pick up a copy of the latest version of Time in order to read Lev Grossman’s article titled sin•gu•lar•i•ty.

I haven’t read the article yet, but I have spent the last five or so minutes thumbing through the pages, as it were, of that issue using Time’s new iPad app. In that short bit of time, I’m already very frustrated with the reading experience the app offers.

I realize that magazine publishing and the translation of same to a digital format is something that is still being struggled with by almost every print magazine on the planet. But I must say that, of all the iPad magazines I’ve looked at thus far, and I’ve looked at quite a few, Time seems to have gotten the concept pretty wrong. In short, here are my complaints, and given that I’ve only looked at this app for a few short minutes, I may find more later or I may find that what I initially hated turns out to be pretty darned good.

Table of Contents:
Seriously? Two columns of contents that need to be scrolled, individually, from top to bottom to locate an article that you want to read?

Scroll for More:
The Time app has instructions on every page to give you guidance on how to read the article you’re presently looking at, so, every article, like the Contents page, has little black bars on it telling you to scroll up or down for more. First of all, you can’t scroll down if you’re already at the top of the article so, technically, you can’t really “scroll” that way “for more.” Second, if you have to provide instructions on every page of your iPad app so people will know how to access its content, you’ve got a problem with your design.

Seriously? Scroll!?!
There is something particularly uncomfortable about swiping left or right to find an article and then scrolling down to read said article, yet this is exactly how the Time app works. The process, at least in my five minute experience, is utterly painful.

No, I Mean Really? Scroll!?!
It’s not so much that you have to scroll down as it is the fact that there really is no pagination. It doesn’t matter to me that the text rolls from top to bottom, but the fact that the article SCROLLs makes it that much easier to lose your place in the text as you scroll along. If you must scroll downward, DON’T SCROLL!! Make it seem like I’m turning a page. Snap from the text I’ve just read at the bottom of the page to the next page’s text at the top of the page so that my eyes can track from the bottom of one page to the top of the next instead of floating around somewhere in the middle until I find my place again.

Remember Where I Was In An Article:
While attempting to read an article in Time I somehow managed to turn my downward scroll into a leftward slide, which took me to the next article in the sequence. My swipe back to the original article did not return me to the page that I was just reading, it instead brought me back to the very beginning of the article. There needs to be some kind of page turning intelligence that either returns me to the last place I was in an article or that lets me choose whether I want to start at the beginning of an article or continue where I left off.

Shut up!!! You think too much.
The overall problem, from where I sit, is that not enough effort goes into making a simple, intuitive magazine reading product. Instead, Time, and to be fair, many other magazine and newspaper-like apps, over-think the experience they’re trying to create and in so doing destroy the pleasure of reading. Simplicity is the key. A book. A magazine. These are simple concepts. There is text on the page, sometimes there are images, and navigation is simple, you flip forward, you flip backward, you find an article in the index, you locate its page number, and you thumb through the magazine until you find the page you’re looking for. There is no glitz. Instructions are unnecessary. A magazine, a book, a newspaper is simple and intuitive. Reading apps for the iPad need to think in terms of simplicity. Once they’ve set that foundation the app they build will be extraordinary.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

February 16th, 2011 at 12:21 am

Wylie as a Coyote, at Least if You’re Talking About Books

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Amazon Snags Exclusive Deal For E-Editions | via NPR

Interesting news in the publishing world today as The Wylie Agency have determined to take some of their backlist and publish them as e-books on their own, meaning that they’re bypassing the book publishers. In response, Random House, who own the publishing rights to many of Wylie’s authors have determined that they will not enter into any new english language publishing agreements with Wylie authors.

?The standoff is the most dramatic yet in the dispute over what agents and authors want to receive and what publishers are willing to pay for e-books, an increasingly vital market. Updike’s four “Rabbit” novels and Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” are among the 20 famous works coming out for the first time in electronic form, not through a traditional publisher, but through Odyssey Editions, founded by the Wylie agency, where clients include the estates of Updike and Saul Bellow and such living authors as Rushdie and Philip Roth.

Curious to me is the fact that Wylie have decided to publish exclusively through Amazon/Kindle. Meanwhile, iBooks has a pretty thin list of titles in their ebook store…

Written by Jeffery Battersby

July 27th, 2010 at 9:14 am

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The iPad Screen Is Not Your Desktop Screen

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The iPad screen is not your desktop screen | via Craig Mod

Great bit by Craig Mod on reading, the iPad, and why reading on the iPad, or any other dedicated reading device, is distinctly different than reading the same book on your computer screen.

The fourth point becomes less relevant as screen technology advances, but the first three aren’t going to change. And the last point is perhaps most insidiously disruptive to stress-free long-form reading: modern desktop OSes are optimized for multi-tasking and short bursts of concentration. Not sitting around the hearth enjoying, you know, Joyce.

I’ve now read several books and dozens of long-form journalism pieces on my iPod Touch and iPhone. Anyone who has done the same knows it’s incomparable to the desktop reading experience. The screen is close to you, position is manipulated by touch, orientation is intimate and the pixel density is much higher than that of our desktop displays. These factors combine to make reading a joy — even on a backlit screen! (I actually do most of my iPhone reading with white text on a dark background.)

(emphasis mine)

There has been much talk about how “horrible” it is that the iPad has no multi-tasking and that you can’t involve yourself in several applications at the same time. Besides being patently false—the “non-multitasking” iPhone allows you to listen to music, receive email and push notifications, and pay attention to a host of other smaller tasks all while only allowing you to perform work within the application that’s currently running—I think the “it’d be great, but it doesn’t have multitasking” argument is a joke, and it obscures a certain truth that I think has been lost on us because we have become so used to a multitude of tasks vying for our attention all at the same time.

That fact?

Focus is good.

Concentrating one some singular activity without other tasks competing for your attention is a great thing.

The iPad is going to allow a singular form of focus that just isn’t possible using a desktop OS.

Take a look at the word processing applications that have appeared over the last few years that are designed to help you filter out the digital world and its horde of competing distractions. WriteRoom, Pages, CopyWrite, Word, and Scrivener all have features that allow you do block out everything but the task at hand. Programs like Think and Concentrate are meant to block out every other application—and with Concentrate, the entire Internet—and help keep you focused on your current activity.

All acknowledge what the iPad enforces by design.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

March 29th, 2010 at 10:13 am

This Is Going to Make David Foster Wallace a Heck of a Lot Easier to Read

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Not that the dictionary next to my bed isn’t working and not that I was going to stop reading DFW because he makes me work, but:

Touch and hold any word to look it up in the built-in dictionary or Wikipedia, or to search for it throughout the book and on the web.

Apple – iPad – Buy and read books like never before | via Apple.com

I also wonder if this is going to make it easier for my wife to sleep while I read in bed.

Mine’s on order, by the way…

Written by Jeffery Battersby

March 12th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

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