Rich Reading Experiences

Let’s finally admit that we’re bored.

Let’s not be so precious about the definition and structure of the written word any more. It’s getting boring. I don’t remember the last time I read a long article online but I’m not happy putting that down to my ruined attention span - maybe I can just see a void that needs filling when I come straight from YouTube or a magazine.

‘4:09:43' an interactive cover story for The New York Times

Maybe if I’m more interested in things that move and change and are colourful then we should be doing that stuff and stop being so proud of the flat and the lifeless because it’s closer to a book or newspaper.

What matters is that content goes into the head of the reader; that you, as a reader, have fun fluidly consuming new information.

This is, after all, how we approach life – eyes, ears and hands open all at the same time. We can handle it.

One way to consume information is to read articles of course, but articles on a monitor will forever be more difficult, painful and fleeting than reading long sections from a paper. So, let’s stop trying to reinvent paper and make the most of the lighter browsers, quicker connections and faster processors that we have now - throw video images, audio and prose into a finely tuned collage that is worth more than its parts, all the while avoiding novelty.

I’m not talking about an article with some images or a podcast episode with a complimentary write-up, but a rich, considered experience.

‘ Machines for life’ a Daft Punk cover story for Pitchfork by Ryan Dombal

Here’s a scary though, at least for writers out there: the written word doesn’t even need to be the backbone of a good article - what a liberating idea.

Let’s just ask what works, and if that ‘thing’ isn’t best described as an article then let’s just call it a ‘story’ or even just a ‘page’ or a ‘link’. If it’s awkward to ask you if you’ve ‘read’ this pitchfork cover story, when you’re doing so much more in interacting, then we should ask ‘have you seen it?’. So, to the question; what works? What makes it a rich experience? Is it the written word? Is it video? Photography? Sound maybe? It actually doesn’t matter; your device, whatever it is, does all of that without even getting hot.

‘32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow’ an interactive interactive cover story for The New York Times

I hope to see far more of these ‘rich’ articles in future - let’s see what a bit of competition manifests.

It’s worth clicking through the images here and taking a look at some great examples by the NYT including a fantastic recent example on the Boston bombings. They are, in my opinion, the pioneers of what I’d like to call a ‘rich page’.

Just, please, whatever happens don’t make them in Flash.

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