I let slip to my boss recently that something has changed in me and I may be now more interested in journalism than I actually am in theatre. I’m not quite sure why this is happening to me (it might be a phase!), but I know I’ve become enamored with the “ideas circuit” as I once heard it called. What’s the idea’s circuit? I’m not quite sure who coined the phrase and what exactly they meant, but I imagine it to be entities like Slate, NPR, Ted Talks, RadioLab; and people like Neil Degrass Tyson, Malcolm Gladwell, and (until recently?) Jonah Lehrer.
Well recently I came across a new one for me: Robin Sloan. Robin has led what sounds like an interesting life being a Media Inventor. In his own words, these are people that are “primarily interested in content—words, pictures, ideas—who also experiment with new formats, new tools, and new technology.” Robin held a position in this vein at twitter in the early years of social media. And Why am i talking about him? well he’s created this mobile app called FISH which he describes as a TAP ESSAY. Basically it’s an essay broken up into slides, and you tap the screen of your iphone to advance while you read it one slide at a time. Each slide contains about one sentence (or sometimes one word, for dramatic effect) and is styled slightly differently in terms of font and colors to make the journey dynamic. And I really love it. Sloan’s thesis of the essay you can read for yourself, but I want to say that I think the delivery of the message is one of my favorites that I’ve ever seen. Here’s a list of reasons why:
- Something about the interactivity of tapping to advance makes it feel like play
- Because you’re not confronted with the FULL ESSAY at one time there’s no urge to scroll to the bottom and think: this is too long. And stop reading
- Because each line is carefully delivered and styled appropriately it feels like your hearing someone talk.
It’s a really well done product. I have actually loved “slideshows” for a long time (mostly for that reason that you can control how much writing is released and pull major focus to a point if that’s what you want). A while before discovering Fish: A Tap Essay I created a “click-through” essay in service of my Undergraduate Alumni Association titled The Third Thing College Gets You, hosted on slideshare. The idea came to me out of nowhere and I’m actually quite proud of it. Every now and then I tweet it, or post it on facebook hoping that someone important sees it, stands up at their desk and shouts: That Kid’s a Great Communicator!
That will be Mission Accomplished. Enjoy The Third Thing… below. :)