is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can reach him through one of the services below.+
One of the creators of the Mag+ platform for publishing content in the form of magazine-like tablet apps has some thoughts on the new iPad and the file size implications of its high-definition screen. This is in response to some speculation that when Retina-optimized magazine apps hit the market, the file size of these already bandwidth-hungry apps will balloon even further. The writer argues:
“I don’t believe people actually give a flying frog about file size — they care about value.”
Personally, the only tablet magazine app that I still use with any regularity is The New Yorker’s iPad app. As I’ve said before, I only download it to read the text and could care less about whatever value-add that its enormous download size is supposedly delivering. I’ve also said many times before that I believe most people don’t care about the value-add, that they would be just as happy to get a plain text version of the content without all of the design fussiness that these apps seem to think is indispensable. In fact, I would prefer a plainer version of the content, as I can’t tell you how often its heavy download demands have proved to be inconvenient; few things are as irritating as trying to get out the door in the morning when this app is leisurely downloading superfluous ads that I could care less about.
That said, Mag+ is essentially right that file size does not matter — or at least that it will matter less in the long-term. Eventually we will get enough bandwidth so that we can download the 150 megabytes or more that these apps ask us to retrieve. Though what I fear is that when we have that capacity, publishers will be asking us to download gigabytes per issue; this is after all an industry that cannot resist imposing greater and greater demands on its users in order to impress itself.+