Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the medium is the massage

bike workout

(and no, the title does not have a typo in it) Continuing on from the previous post, what I'm really interested in is how to design a PDF photographic book to best take advantage of the medium. That's opposed to my previous approach of cloning and copying everything I could find that made a photographic book a real book - two full spreads of title page - one plain, one ornate (seems to be a canonical form of a photographic book - check and see how many of yours have the same structure at the front). A colophon page, facing page layouts designed to work together, all these things that are constrained by the printed medium that I tried to copy and bring forward into a PDF.

This time around I want to consider more the design of the book for a PDF, rather than as a segue to a printed copy. McLuhan's tetrad of media effects might be good way to explore this. At least I can use it to think about what a PDF might contain, so I can then think about what it should contain. Really these questions are about the difference between electronic media, presented in PDF vs a physical book. I'm not so interested in making it interactive, I am more concerned with how to design and layout the result to take advantage of the features on offer.


   1. What does the medium enhance?

   2. What does the medium make obsolete?

   3. What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?

   4. What does the medium flip into when pushed to extremes?

Much of this also expresses the things I don't particularly like about the Amazon Kindle - it tries too hard to look and feel like a book, but along the way loses many of the things that make a small paperback book so successful as a medium. Being able to flick quickly through pages. The ability to take it anywhere, use it anywhere.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, Just wondering if you have a Kindle... agree screens not ready for photobooks yet, but I'm finding it fine for reading books (mostly text, but scientific diagrams/b+w images), in bed, at restaurants, on plane etc. Only place I won't take it is the bath tub. Being able to cross check google/wikipedia/etc. on it, has proven useful too. - Kate

Gordon said...

I've tried and not liked a couple of them and the sony eReaders. I even worked for several years on the design of the processor on the KindleII, so if anyone should be biased in favour of it, it would be me.

Things like the closed system (e.g., not being able to access Safari by O'Reilly easily) and missing things like monospaced fonts annoy me about the implementation.

That and the lack of spatial awareness of the content, that you get from a book, but is totally lost on an eReader.

There are various other things where an eReader just isn't as good as a real book.

I'm certainly in the target demographic for a device like this - I travel a lot, I carry a lot of books - just the books I carry are never available on devices like this, at least for now.

I think eventually it'll get to be a useful thing, for now, it is all too early in the kindling stage, at least for me.