I’ve been meaning to write about URLs, text and non-web online publishing for a while, but now I don’t have to, because Craig Mod has, and he did it better than I could have done. (He’s also going to get more attention, which is great, because it’s more likely things will change.)
Some choice quotes (although you should read the whole thing):
Am I reading text? If the text in your ereader isn’t text but is instead an image (.jpeg, .png, etc) then, by golly, your ereader’s incompetent.
Can you copy text? If you can’t, your ereader’s incompetent.
Is there a publicly facing pointer (URL, etc) by which you can reference the content in your ereader?
As Mod notes, it’s amazing that things like the iPad Wired app, which fail all three of these points, have been so highly praised. However, I’m more inclined to put malice (or its close relation, “business reasons”) as the reason for some of these decisions, in some apps. Despite the fact that Twitter, Facebook and email can drive readers to a site, it seems some companies would rather their magazines and newspapers lived in hermetic isolation.
At least the Guardian’s iPhone app, which is far from flawless, has the ability to email a link and post to various services, although (oddly) it fails to have a simple “Open in Browser” option. From what I’ve seen, neither the Wired app, nor any of the Mag+ publications, have such obviously useful features.
At least, as Mod notes, we’re only six months into the life of the iPad (and barely a couple of years into widely-used mobile devices). Perhaps with time will come a realisation that locking things down isn’t the best idea.
¹ Hat tip to dan w for the links.
² In one of his footnotes, Mod approving notes Instapaper, which I agree gets almost everything right. Hopefully at some point I’ll write about the (somewhat weak) social aspects of the app, though.)