Reading in Two Different Worlds

Books can get away with a lot of things.

If you really think about the typical design of a book, it would be pretty shocking at the number of people who still cherish books. Your typical page looks like a permeable curtain of words and sentences almost designed to bore. The cover is the only visually appealing portion, while the rest is a monotony. 

The reason they can get away with it is because books are some of the most personal items that we can own. Your favorite book has its scars and torn pages because of your interaction with it, and your love for what was inside. Its pages can securely hold thoughts and ideas that you truly appreciated, without having the casual yet detached passerby able to access them. Someone cannot scroll through a book and be able to understand how moving the story was and how a character reflected things about you in ten seconds. There is magic to the fact that it is hard to access a book without taking the time necessary to start from the beginning. 

Online however, the medium is different. The constant update in design, overload of information, and general desire for easily digestible information doesn't lead to written storytelling. The magic, unlike a book, isn't in the story, but more in the way the story is told. 

There is nothing wrong with this, we need both. A good book’s design is to capture its readers within the words. But on the internet, you need a captivating method to read.

The way in which we produce and consume writing can move beyond simply scrolling through paragraphs. Our computers and phones have become the most engaging pieces of technology that we use every day. It’s time that the articles, thoughts, and words that see use every day also reflect that versatility. 

Two examples come to mind when thinking about the progression of word processing and reading. Paper by Dropbox, and Medium

Paper, is Dropbox’s new platform for word processing. Simplifying the user experience with a bare bones approach to writing, words appear crisp and easy to format. The tools that Paper offers can split thoughts into easily digestible chunks. Task managing, listing, and most importantly storytelling are improved. In software that is anything but neatly organized, Paper is an example of a service I love to write with. 

Medium, is then the next step. Designed to make blogging uniform, yet let enough breathing room for true creativity, Medium has fostered a thoughtful writing culture and great looking pieces. Reading becomes more of an experience, and the time that someone can put into a post is reflected through their design. 

There is room for another great platform. A way to tell true stories, both fiction and nonfiction, engaging for the person sitting on their laptop to read. Visually appealing yet consistent enough that it is still a unified story, not a flashy web demo. Harnessing the speed at which the web moves, but its versatility in conveying information.

Breaking the status quo of how we read and write online will allow the internet to continue to do its job: providing information at the most convenient and user-focused way possible. The user in this case, isn't someone who has the time to get cozy and settle into the difficult task of diving into a real book.

But that’s just fine.