Building The Perfect Beast

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Archive for the ‘Craig Mod’ tag

Craig Mod—Embracing the Digital Book

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Embracing the digital book | via Craig Mod

Another excellent, insightful piece by Craig Mod on the current state of e-book readers and what they should aspire to be.

Physical books and e-books are both text at their cores. Book designers long ago established rigorous rules for laying out text blocks so they disappear to the reader. They took pride in turning the physicality of a book into a tool for efficiently and elegantly getting information into the mind of the reader. As any good typographer knows: the best typography goes unnoticed.

Our e-readers seem to have forgotten this heritage. They’ve forgotten that their core purpose is simply to present text as comfortably as possible; to gently pull the reader into the story. Every other aspect of experiencing a book is predicated on this notion.

I don’t have my own iPad yet, but I do have a demo unit that I’m using for a review and there are many things that I love about it and more I’m finding everyday. Reading is definitely different, and I think better, on the iPad than it is on either my iPhone or my Macbook Pro. I’m particularly in love with Instapaper Pro, although I’ve probably saved more items for “reading later” than is possible for me to read in the next few decades. While iBooks is interesting, I’m not finding any of the books that I’m interested in reading at present and I, like Mod, can do without the page turning animations and the book-like look of the interface. I’d also like the option to use white text on a black background so I can read in bed without waking my wife or feeling like I’m using an emergency locater beacon. The Kindle app, at present, offers far more, both in terms of what’s available book-wise and display options, than does iBooks.

The one app that I’m supremely impressed with is Outside Magazine’s iPad Edition, which seems to me to have spanned the gap between print and digital editions in a pretty stellar fashion. The quality of the text mirrors that of the magazine and, while I think that as they continue to work on the layout it will only get better, I feel that in its present state it’s already a pretty darn good replacement for the print edition and one that I’d gladly subscribe to in a digital format. It also appears that Outside has designed this version to work in the way that I hoped iPad-based magazines would work, a single application with which you’re able to easily access older issues of the magazine and your latest issue without having to download a separate application every time a new issue is release. I’ll also add that the quality of the photography in the iPad edition is stunning. There’s a depth to it that you just can’t get in a print magazine and it’s truly beautiful to look at.

Outside Magazine Cover

Outside Magazine Content

Written by Jeffery Battersby

April 21st, 2010 at 11:48 am

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