Prominence Versus Influence

October 2, 2009

Recently a well-known Internet marketeer did a local in-person song and dance to NYC publishers. His banalities were tweeted. Today a YouTube of his yak-up was posted and I decided I’d wait until I was on my deathbed and needed a push through Death’s Door to view it.

I name no names, of course.

There are people who do the Circle Jerk Mouth Circuit. We see the same few names over and over again.

And we are led to believe that this prominence is equal to influence.

Here’s an article to wake up all of you:

The Wizard of Beck

Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.

Red boldfaced emphasis added by me.

I am becoming speedily disillusioned with the Party Line of the Internet, with all the bleatings that are repeated over and over as truisms yet never quite seem to work when let loose into the real world.

It’s only the real world that matters.

Because that’s where the people are.

And those people have the money.

Things don’t get done by those who talk.

They get done by those who do.

— thanks to a tweet by @lefsetz

Eveda: How NOT To Do A Digital Book

October 2, 2009

Someone in Comments wanted me to take a look at this.

It’s a textbook example of why digital books have gained more skeptics than supporters.

I really recommend enlarging each of these and looking at them.

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The default language is Russian …

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… although selecting English is really not much of an improvement:

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Interface Sin: It uses a Flash-based page-flip animation to mimic print:

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… the only time I’ve seen that done well is at the Internet Archive.

What’s even worse is that the page flips seem to go to chapter starts — not from page to page of the text!

This is where you can begin reading — and I don’t recall how the hell I got there:

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Beginning to read…

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The text is bizarrely all-centered! Wrong!

And see how the page is opaque, how the background image bleeds through? Wrong!

Here’s a Compound Interface Sin:

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The page has two interfaces! Arrows in the upper right corner for Back/Forward and a scrollbar to move up/down within the text. Wrong!

ScrollMotion does something similar with its Iceberg iPhone reading app — scroll up/down and swipe back/forward — but I understand why they’re doing that (an explanation in a future post, for those who haven’t figured it out). Here, it makes no sense whatsoever.

After the text has been read and dismissed, there are three options:

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Clicking on Picture…

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… displays a confusing montage of images of different sizes whose relation to one another is not easily discerned. And there is annoying music with this too. Wrong.

Clicking the third option, Play …

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… brought up six squares, of unknown purpose.

Clicking on the sixth one …

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… brought up a teletype-like character-by-character display of text.

At this point, I’d had enough.

This is all just so wrong. Design isn’t about what you can do, what you can add — design is about knowing what can be done and not doing all of it. And great design is knowing what to leave out.

This digital book is not an end result of design — it’s the end result of a failed conspiracy.

The home page is even worse:

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It’s things like this that have engendered an army of enemies against the term “digital book.” People look at this agglomeration of randomness and have the idea planted in their heads that the future is going to offer them a mess.

Vook’s web interface shows what’s possible with the digital book. Something that looks simple is the product of the hardest thinking possible. It’s the complex and nonsensical that’s the end-result of non-thought.

That’s something Microsoft never understood — and still doesn’t understand. The only time Microsoft approached glimpsing the power of true design was with Microsoft Reader — which it abandoned.

Apple understands design nearly completely. Which is why the iPhone has not just sold in the millions, but is also actively impacting the entire DNA of Internet too.

If this hasn’t deterred you, or you have a morbid curiosity about how design can fail, begin at the Eveda Home Page. [Update: fixed link]

The Eveda Blog reveals they have the enthusiasm for digital books. They just don’t know how to do them right.

God Bless All Librarians

October 2, 2009

Boy Lifts Book; Librarian Changes Boy’s Life

“Then she realized what my situation was — that I could not let anybody know I was reading.

Grady told Neal she decided that if he was showing an interest in books, “she and Mrs. Saunders would drive to Memphis and find another one for me to read — and they would put it in the exact same place where the one I’d taken was.”

So, every time Neal decided to take a book home, the pair would set off to the city to find another book for him.

“You’ve got to understand that this was not an easy matter then — because this is 1957 and ’58,” Neal said. “And black authors were not especially available, No. 1. And No. 2, Frank Yerby was not such a widely known author. And No. 3, they had to drive all the way to Memphis to find it.

Bold emphasis added by me.

Think of that the next time your city or town wants to close the public or school library.

Librarians are agents of God who walk the earth.

Previously here:

“Public Libraries … [Are] Houses Of Death”