Thursday 1 July 2010

Slow media, fast delivery

I've just returned from a motivating and exhilarating time at Foo Camp in Sonoma County, just outside San Francisco. I would say 'humbling' as well, except I don't think I could have come out of it any more humble than I went in.

One of the most interesting sessions I attended was one led by Kevin Kelly and Stephen Levy on slow media. The argument is that in these days of gimme-it-now insta-reporting, it's hard both for publications to support long-form, long-term reporting, and for readers to find the attention span to absorb it.

In the session, it was noted that only one person had a laptop open. In fact, I barely saw a laptop at Foo. It's not unexpected that in a tech-heavy audience most people will be carrying either an iPad or a smart phone, but it did surprise me that laptops were so little in evidence. One of the nice things about the iPad is that it's far less obtrusive in a small group of people - the wall of the laptop screen disappears.

The weekend gave me a chance to get a little more familiar with the iPad. I still haven't found my killer app, the use-case that convinces me I need one. If I travelled more, that would be a different case. But as it is, for writing I prefer a laptop (well, a desktop for anything longer than a blog post or email) and my freshly acquired iPhone is quickly becoming indispensable for everyday checking up and checking in.

However, if my long-desired essay mixtape were to eventuate on the iPad, I would probably shell out. It is a good reading experience, and well-suited to long-form writing. However, I want more than to just surf the web and bookmark and revisit and happen upon and be linked too great articles; I want some way of arrnaging and describing and sharing them.

Further reading:

The slow media manifesto

Matt Jones on magic windows and magic tables

Russell Davies on 'printing the internet out and squirting it into things'

My past thoughts in the grandly titled 'future of essay anthologies'

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