Fast Talk

I was fortunate enough to see a really healthy audience turnout last Saturday afternoon at my South by Southwest Interactive 2011 talk, where I spent an hour unpacking many of the ideas in my book “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design.” Thanks a million to everyone who showed up to listen to me talk about what I always thought was a topic of fairly narrow interest. I was incredibly gratified to find out that I was wrong.

Later that same afternoon I made another appearance at the conference, this time on the Fast Company stage where I was interviewed by my good friend, the design writer Alissa Walker. This was a much smaller venue and not as widely publicized, so only a handful of people got to watch it in person.

On Videotape

Thankfully, Alissa wrote up the major points of our discussion in this blog post. The talk was billed as a conversation about “the future of online reading,” so there were a lot of questions about my previously stated positions on iPad magazine apps, illustration on the Web, digital publishing and other topics. As an added bonus, I offer a few of my as yet unpublished thoughts on The Daily. It’s a fast read, but for those who want to see the full hour or so of our Q & A, as well as some audience questions that followed, Fast Company has, helpfully, posted this video.

  1. Glad your talks went well!

    I completely agree on The Daily. Magazines no longer appeal to many people, because of their “final product” rather than “constant stream” publishing model, and their lack of personalized content. The “final product” model has its advantages—more art direction and finishability—but it has to be opt-in and the audience is going to be limited.

    I do think there is an opportunity, though, for better technological solutions to help replace some of the lost art direction that’s the “Machine Pace” has ushered in. Semantic content analysis and detailed metadata are already being used to create compelling, contextual content collections, and I think efforts like that are only going to grow.

    Business-wise, I don’t really know enough to comment, but I’m much more interested in a micropayment system than I am in a paywall—if only because I believe that news is a public good and forcing people to subscribe to it “all or nothing” will limit the number of publications they can read, and in turn, the number of perspectives they can hear.

    Btw, I’d say that much of what you said about the old NYT Opinion section applies to Times Topics. Someone needs to get on redesigning that. It’s a hugely valuable resource but almost no one knows about it and the UX is really lagging. Why hasn’t it gotten more attention?

  2. Also, it was great to hear your opinion on the Gawker redesign.

    I agree that the implementation is a bit rough, but I suspect it will prove to be a huge business success. It removes so many points of friction that it encourages endless, mindless browsing. [Two words which, not coincidentally, describe much of Gawker’s content.] They’ve also managed to completely reactivate the right side of the page, which will be great for their ad revenue.

  3. “We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” Marshall McLuhan.

    Seemed relevant to your point regarding old media companies trying to recreate themselves in the new-assuming the same conditions exist.

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