Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ipad therefore I am

So, kitchen toiling yesterday I was listening to the media show on Radio 4 and they were talking about the Ipad - how Murdoch is about to launch a newspaper in New york which will only be available via said digi-tablet. Emily Bell and an FT guy name don't recall were discussing the feasibility of such a thing yadda yadda.... emily doesn't think it will work...what?! I almost threw down my dishcloth and wrung my marigolded hands in disbelief.
Now I don't proclaim myself to be a visionary, nor anything like the digi-tastic expert that ms bell is, but even I can see that in a few years time a large proportion of our reading, the majority probably, will be off a digital pad. anyone who's got an iphone and googles randomly while watching telly or as I do, checks out bbc.co.uk/news (the mere mention of which will get those news corp hackles bristling...) first thing in the morning, knows that. And yes that extends to reading full articles that I'm particularly interested in off the screen, and that's off a tiny palm-sized screen. (I'd rather it was bigger but budget doesn't yet extend to the 'pad'). And why wouldn't I? Bury the myth - reading is easy off the screen. the clarity of text on an iphone is super sharp, more so in fact than on newsprint.
As we all know, the newspaper (traditional format) is dying a slow painful death. Having worked in national press this was a matter of some panic 20 years ago. I can only imagine what the feeling must be now. The cost of producing a digital newspaper is a fraction of what it costs to print, distribute, return and destroy those that aren't sold. Newspapers are getting ever thicker, multi-sectioned, supplemented and desperate to attract our attention as we get ever more indifferent. Most of us get our news from digital formats these days, and less money in printing and distribution means more for good journalism. But what about features i hear you say - curling up with a good mag, beautiful photographic reproduction off the page, the serendipitous pleasant surprise when you turn the page?
Oh, for goodness sake, stop romanticising. why shouldn't an ipad do any of those things? and better? with film and all kind of enhancements to boot, should you wish.
Spent a very lovely long weekend in seville last summer. Staggered up to the pool with book, scribble pad, newspaper and several weighty magazines. Had forgotten the one book I'd meant to read on holiday so had to make do. As I reclined awkwardly on my sunbed, clumsily attempting to flick pages of a heavy magazine while simultaneously using it to shield eyes and face from sevillian sun, I saw a couple arrive, she oozing sophistication in robe and turban, he oozing wealth, and sizeable paunch hanging over expensive trunks. Without a word they sat, whipped out their leather bound ipads, laid back and began to read. As William Gibson once once said, the future's here, it's just not widely distributed.

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