Monday, February 21, 2011

Flipboard: A Harbinger of Magazines that Read People?

Early in December 2010, Apple named Flipboard as the best iPad app of the year. Flipboard unpacks the underlying articles and images from your social streams like Twitter and Facebook, and presents them in a magazine-like format. So, you leaf through your Facebook, as it were. The user experience is remarkably rich, due to the aesthetically pleasing layout, typography, generous white spaces and attractive graphics.Once you start experiencing your Twitter streams on Flipboard, it is addicting.

Flipboard is free, and has already  been downloaded by over a million people. (I confess, I did not make it to the first million, just started using it recently.) It seems to me that Flipboard ushers in a fundamentally new way of consuming content on touchscreen tablets.  The page flipping action is a perfect navigation method on the iPad, which is all about touch.

Flipboard lets you pull in Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google Reader feeds and other custom feeds. It grabs photos, text or video from Twitter streams and stitches them into a magazine-like layout.  In essence, it helps you design your own visually rich newspaper - which is always up to date.You get to read the content you care about, posted by people you care about.

In that sense, Flipboard is a magazine that reads you - your interests and your social networks - to build itself. Sounds like a holy grail for advertisers. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Building Digital Narratives - Microsoft Research Showcases Cutting Edge Technology for Rich Internet Narratives (RIN)

Imagine flying over the majestic Himalaya mountains and slowly descending on to the Domkhar valley near Ladakh. You enjoy a panoramic view of the lush green valley and wonder how it looked in winter snow. You pause a moment, and with a click of a mouse, contrast the view, now brimming with life, with a desolate winter not too long ago. You land and enter the village. Now you reckon it is time to enter an ancient monastery. Presently you are in. As you hear the incantations you look around. You find a wall showing several images of the Buddha, each illustrating a different symbolic sign. You can't just walk by, you need to know more. The narrative pauses. You approach the wall, go take a closer look, turn around and the narrative continues. The whole experience is media-rich, interactive and immersive.

Microsoft Research recently showcased a new technology called Rich Internet Narratives (RIN) that combines the best of two worlds. On the one hand you have the power of storytelling narrative, which traditional media such as video, audio and text provide. On the other hand you have the exploratory freedom offered by new technologies such as 3D scene construction from photo images, gigapixel image navigation and interactive maps. RIN brings these two together in a compelling interactive narrative.

Curious? Check out the Digital Narratives website.