She didn’t get quite the press coverage as Mr. Jobs, but Annie rolled out the first color versions of the prototype for our would-be news website about an hour after the iPad was unveiled in California. My favorite Danish-born, Rome-based web designer and I are zeroing in on what we will present online (but locked down) to potential collaborators, funders and assorted media biz muckety mucks just like you!? The color version makes it ever more clear that we see eye-to-eye on just about everything…except for, uh, colors. It’s made extra hard by our shared desire to avoid the various shades of red that we see in so many news sites. We’ll see…
Our little coincidence in timing with the folk at Apple only stirred further thoughts about trying to stay up with the fast-changing online world as I try to imagine how our humble offering will work and look when it’s up and running for real. It’s a constant struggle to try to calculate the way technology will change habits and choices of the consumer, and the ways it will not. Will the iPad encourage/discourage people to read longer or shorter pieces? Will it encourage/discourage pay models? Is it basically the web on wheels? Or the web in bed? Again, the fascinating tension with technology and the news business was on display in San Francisco: the mobility and multi-functionality of this new device will help journalists do their work faster and wider (and allow more people do journalism or some iteration therein) even as it would seem to encourage ever more the FREE flow of their work.
Since my core content will be written articles, I for one am constantly asking myself about reading. If video is always there, tempting even the well-meaning, would-be interested reader, is the written word ultimately dying a slow death before our eyes? I don’t think so. In fact, I am waiting for the big thinkers and master builders of Silicon Valley to come up with something electronic/digital/portable that feels both like the latest, slickest thing that offers everything AND is focused on the written word. I think people want that, they want state-of-the-art help turning off all the flashing images of our world.
As for our prototype, we know that on one hand it must help demonstrate what our core content will be, and also show that we will deliver it in an aesthetically appealing and technologically intelligent way. But no, we will not have an iPad version with our presentation. I met last Friday with a sharp and straight-forward content management strategist who is advising me on the project. He said it is important even in with a news and media site to offer at least one technological innovation with a new startup. What about making it video-free?