August 11, 2012

Talk is cheap, especially on Twitter when the subject is complicated

I love Twitter, 140 characters truly brings you down to the essence of whatever you want to say. Sometimes it gets a bit rich though, like this statement from Gustav von Sydow (@vonsydow) about tablet magazines:

Compared to what it could and should be, tablet magazines must be one of the least well executed media experiences of all time.

To be fair, Gustav von Sydow isn’t the only one expressing this point of view about tablet mags, and at a glance you’ll probably nod your head and agree.

The problem is that you are probably wrong and you just haven’t realized it yet.

For the record: technically, most tablet magazines suck. They are:

  • Too heavy to download.
  • Lacking in readability.
  • Often crippled compared to their print counterpart.
  • Too expensive.

What tablet magazines are today however, is exactly what we think we want from them. We’re essentially asking the publishers to create a mix of the old print magazines and the new web, and what we get is a heavy and bloated product with content that may or may not be brilliant. We get fancy scrolling, the occasional video and links to a built-in web browser, as well as often crippled design from a print designer that is a bit too unfamiliar with this new tablet-thingy.

What we should be asking for is a kick-ass tablet optimized web magazine, but we won’t because honestly, most of us just won’t pay for that and then the magazine can’t afford to be brilliant enough to survive. The product we want isn’t viable, either because the publishers lack the tools to produce it, or because we’re not ready to pay for content online at a wider scale yet, if ever.

It is really easy to lash out about these things (and others) in 140 characters. Especially so since you can explain your lack of explanation, proof, or even reasoning with “it did not fit in the tweet, but please RT = <3”. Think about that before you throw a steaming pile at something in 140 characters or less, because if you can’t back it up then you should keep your mouth shut.

So to Gustav von Sydow (whom I really don’t want to attack with this post, and I continue to follow) I ask this, and you may respond directly to @tdh if you like:

  • How can tablet magazines improve (because it is better to help than to bash)?
  • Why are the tablet magazines bad today and what can we learn from
    it?
  • What could and should tablet magazines be in your opinion?

I know what I think tablet mags are doing wrong, I know how I would do them, and I know why a lot of these products look like they do today, and I’ll no doubt be talking about that in the future. Rest assured my reasoning will require well beyond 140 characters though.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.