What are books hired to do?

My talk at the TOC Frankfurt is available as a free Perspective download.

What are books hired to do?

[Originally presented October 9th, 2012 in Frankfurt Germany.]

I spoke about what books and other media are really hired to do. The basic needs of users are met by story tellers but the products of commerce often chase user attributes rather than their needs.

  • kiran bhanushali

    Any chance of seeing the talk on youtube? Don’t have an ipad.

    • hannibal

      Get one and with the post-PC era…

      • kiran bhanushali

        Have a nexus 7 and this app isn’t available there whereas youtube has an app on the nexus 7.

    • A version that supports the iPhone has been submitted for approval into the App Store.

      • kiran bhanushali

        Hi Horace, any idea if it can be played on an app on android?

      • Yes. There is no Android version.

      • kiran bhanushali


    • Pixxa are trying to do the same thing as a billion other companies before them — corner the market on the file type solving a particular problem, so that rather than just being a good content PRODUCER they want to be the sole content PLAYER.
      (Compare earlier attempts at owning the audio file market, the video file market, the hypertext file market…)

      Personally I hope they fail. What we have already seen is that their app repeats all the problems you’d expect from a single vendor situation: it’s set up to solve a particular problem they think users have, but hasn’t actually thought through the issues or asked users what their real problems are.
      If you want to play on a non-iOS device, tough. If you want to play on a more portable type device (eg while doing exercises or errands), tough. If you want to play at faster than 1x speed, tough.
      The great advantage of the format over pure video is supposedly the interactivity, but the interactivity is actually useless because it loses your place in the audio stream. Even the large scale navigability is ghastly, with no obvious way to know where you are in a long presentation.

      So in summary: good luck hoping they’ll put the material on YouTube. (Though why you’d want that, I can’t imagine —- it’s ultimately just another of these unfriendly silos, with all the problems I listed above. It does better in playing in multiple places, but has its own version on useless interactivity if you want to pause a stream for a day or more. The RIGHT way to do this is to distribute an h.264 file, which will play anywhere on a huge variety of software and which, because it is an open format, can be sliced and diced as the viewer wishes.)

      • It sounds like you would prefer that there not be any presentation available after the event. But if that is the case, perhaps you can avoid trying to watch it.

      • Horace you are missing my point.
        Read what I said with an unemotional attitude, rather than defensively. My complaint was that a file type that is tied to a single app mean that the user is tied to all the UI limitation of that single app, and I listed a number of those limitations.

        I would not prefer that there be no presentation available after an event; what I would prefer is that any presentations be in h.264 format.

        As for chico12, have you ever actually USED Perspective and its interactivity, as opposed to marveling about how wonderful it is in theory?
        The big problem is that as soon as you start to interact with a graphic you lose your position in the audio. Since many of the audio segments are ten minutes long per slide, and since there is no random access within a slide, this means that interactivity is basically useless unless you don’t mind listening again to ten minutes of audio you have already heard

      • I am not missing your point. I understand it well. You are asking for a presentation that can be played back in any format. That’s not what we’re offering. We’re offering data interaction with an audio overlay. It can be played as a performance but that was not the original intention and the playback option was an afterthought. What I object to is far more fundamental. Your request is like asking for a movie file instead of a Keynote or Powerpoint set of slides. To implement a slide presentation as a movie is to rasterize a vector object: wasteful and destructive of the inherent meaningfulness in the presentation. Incidentally, you can export Keynote to quicktime or even PDF, but how many times have you delivered movie versions of presentations? For that matter why not request movie versions of all document formats including spreadsheets. It would be the most portable format and you could slice it up however you wanted. The answer is not to bring richness of detail to lowest common denominator but to fix the problem of interaction. Your assumption that the current version cannot be fixed sounds, frankly, insulting.

      • Chico12

        I have USED it quite a bit. Thank you for the condescension.
        I have not added audio to my presentations but recorded the scenes for playback and my clients have found it the most value add experience so far.
        What other interactive solution do you compare it to? I don’t see your video h.264 cutting it to play with interactive data charts.
        You complain about the device but this concept doesn’t seem limited to a platform. The control of play seems like a feature add, so I don’t understand your trashing the entire solution. Clearly you don’t need/value data interaction, which is where I find the uniqueness and differentiation my clients are eating up.

      • chico12

        You’ve got to be kidding me! Seriously?!? h.264? This isnt’ a video? can you say 1990’s?
        I get alot more out of being able to use the interactive charts than just a video, or audio, or a powerpoint. You should be a shamed of yourself for crudely criticizing innovative approach.
        I make iOS apps and I don’t have the resources to build on Android too. You gotta choose especially if you don’t make alot of $$.Kudos to Horace for trying to deliver content a different way and the Perspective team for putting up an App this complex for FREE!Can’t wait to publish my own story!

  • klasseng

    Getting an error when trying to download:
    Error Downloading Document: You are not authorized to download this story.

    • PXLated

      Same here.

      • chico

        Works fine for me.

  • Guest

    I really need an iPad so I can view these. Love your insight (which is a better word than “story” to use as the document format name).

  • The option to email myself a reminder to view with Perspectives on my iPad is genius! It demonstrates a sensitivity to how people use technology (or, more precisely, OS X and iOS). Such a simple and perfect solution…