The Magazine of the Future
August 9, 2012 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Readymag is a new interactive publishing platform which allows you to create, publish and discover truly amazing webzines. Be sure to play with the demo for a look at the bleeding edge of web interactivity. It's not quite a sci-fi future yet, but it's getting closer.
posted by nosila (26 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The backgrounds in the demo take me back to the Web, circa 1996.
posted by jscalzi at 6:53 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ha! I know...but the platform itself looks pretty fantastic.
posted by nosila at 6:54 AM on August 9, 2012

I don't want to be that guy, but aside from some bloated interface that I couldn't get the demo to properly work with NoScript, but I'm struggling to see why this is a great thing.
posted by Mezentian at 6:57 AM on August 9, 2012

Well, it's...interesting. Reminds me a lot of "interactivity" demos from way back in the day, though. Lots of shiny effects but nothing new that actually enhances (let alone improves) understanding.

And, yegodz, the text-to-speech in that Story section is horrible. I thought maybe I was listening to a Scandinavian translation or something.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:01 AM on August 9, 2012

It kind of reminds me of power point, and the demos we'd do for it back in the day in school to show how you could use it to do "awesome stuff".

I mean, realistically - what does this *actually* improve, so far as say, actually getting meaningful information about a topic?
posted by dethb0y at 7:04 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

yeah, I didn't think I'd be the first to post that this reminds me of DHTML demos from the late 90s. Only back then I'd think "Wow, kind of ugly but SO COOL!" and now I just feel like I've seen it before. I'm going to poke around the documentation and see what the platform actually does. The write up was certainly exciting!
posted by annathea at 7:06 AM on August 9, 2012

I'm really hoping this isn't the future. We don't need this kind of fucking "interactivity" "multimedia" nonsense. This is a jizztoy for people who don't have any words but want to act impressed with themselves anyway.

Technology allows us to clarify data, render it simpler and more accessibly. That should be incredibly exciting for anybody who knows the joy of a good read, of devices which get out of our way and let us lose ourselves in the piece.

This is the exact opposite of that. Burn it with fire.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:14 AM on August 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

Ouch. It doesn't work on my tablet. Pretty much defeats the purpose. Oh, well. I thought it was a really great idea for people with good content to be able to easily and affordably create a really great interactive magazine layout on a purposed platform without having to pay someone to code an entire site. Maybe it will get better...they're still pre-beta.
posted by nosila at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2012

We've failed making friendship with your browser, but we are very pleased with: Chrome Firefox Safari Opera

Yeah, I've failed at making friends with that prick IE too, but my boss keeps making us work together.
posted by Rykey at 7:23 AM on August 9, 2012

What does this give publishers that The Web as it is already doesn't? I'm afraid I missed something.

And the '93-Wired-meets-'83-Omni-look? I just assumed we've come full circle like how all the girls at my shows are all wearing oblique checkerboard patterns with pink and black tiger print now.
posted by sourwookie at 7:28 AM on August 9, 2012

I want to embrace this as a sort of futuristic thing, but the whole eyeball-exhausting, action-demanding "Touch here! Now touch here! Swipe here! Pinch here! Click here!" thing just makes me want to read a damn story in a nice straightforward paper book, magazine, or electronic facsimile thereof. It sort of reminds me how all the futuristic user interfaces are supposed to be gestural, on glass, and see through, because using a computer should involve a lot of hand-waving, greasy screens, and a good view of all the junk piled up behind your computer.

I enjoy a good new media piece, of course, but reading when I am King when I'm in that mood is one thing, but having to swim around a screen like an otter chasing a little fish to access information is too much. Hell, it's irritating that flipboard doesn't use the same "close this article" convention to close a publication. World of the future, I suppose.
posted by sonascope at 7:40 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like bells, I like whistles, but all the bells and all the whistles, all together at once?
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:40 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, in a lot of ways it feels like they've made the mistake that lots of "new media" pioneers in the early 80s did. All sorts of interactive gewgaws and widgets jammed in, waving and jumping around for attention... neglecting the fact that what most people actually do when reading... is read.

I used to suspect I was just being a reactionary when I said stuff like that, but the success of services like ReadItLater, Instapaper, LongForm, and the 'Reading Mode' in the new versions of Safari are convincing me that it's a legitimate distinction. One of the biggest challenges for would-be digital magazine creators isn't the inability to make flyover menus and toggle-able voiceovers; it's the difficulty of doing good basic design within the constraints of ebooks and/or multiple tablet and handheld form factors.

A really, really good set of HTML/CSS templates that work in most ePub readers and degrade gracefully for the simpler ones? Something that gives a good typographic foundation and a decent basis for integrating other media on platforms that support it? That would go a lot farther, IMO.

Right now, it just seems like a replacement for Flash splash pages. Maybe I'm missing the really important part?
posted by verb at 8:05 AM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Er, new media pioneers in the early 90s. The 80s was a bit early for the age of truly awful animated-postage-stamp-filled Multimedia CD-ROMs...
posted by verb at 8:06 AM on August 9, 2012

They look like a nice bunch of kids but clearly I'm not ready for the future.
posted by mazola at 8:12 AM on August 9, 2012

They really need to hire a better designer. Yuck.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:13 AM on August 9, 2012

Am I being trolled?
posted by ethansr at 8:35 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like the core idea behind this, but the demo makes it seem truly horrible and outdated. I don't think this is where the future of reading is headed. This seems like a relic from that lusty period in the 90s and 00s where people were imagining all sorts of futuristic, avant garde ways of reinventing reading, then realized they really just wanted to read some words on a page and made Readability.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2012

More importantly, what's the business model?

They place ads in the webzine you make using their platform?
posted by notyou at 8:40 AM on August 9, 2012

They really need to hire a better designer. Yuck.

Well, if you look at the 'Team' page, it appears to be mostly twenty-somethings, with three designers, three CxO-level 'founders,' and two developers, one (it appears) specializing in front end scripting while the other does backend development.

For a platform/framework, they're a little light on devs and heavy on 'visionary founders'. It's not too hard to see how this turned into the equivalent of a mid-90s DHTML demo, as someone mentioned earlier.
posted by verb at 9:01 AM on August 9, 2012

Beyond the horrible and outdated "vision", based on the google results they may want to rethink their name as well.
posted by HumanComplex at 10:14 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was immediately frustrated that all the controls were hidden, and when finally discovered, were non-intuitive. Do we really need an all-around-the-screen HUD just to navigate an article? This sort of highlights for me that web browsers really could use a gesture vocabulary, separate from that of the app UI. I really wanted to swipe, but instead had to click and scroll. Every subsequent screen presented a new UI vocabulary that had to be discovered and learned. Plus, while glitzy, the demo wasn't attractive. It needs more cohesion in its UI vocabulary, and the demo article should have its content and subject enhanced by the UI rather than obscured by it. I would have much rather read a simple .html page than wade through the demo. As is, the demo gave me that queasy feeling I get when I encounter poorly conceived technology. And that text to speech really messed with my mind. When you can't identify your native language, that's not a good thing. Was that perhaps Scottish English?

OS X uses visual cues to indicate clickable items (like the active button pulsating blue). I think they need some of those, but very subtle, to indicate clickability, but maybe only when the pointer is moving to prevent distraction and overload. The web is all about hypertext and layered and branching knowledge. I think this is what they should concentrate on, both with internal and external article links.
posted by jabah at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2012

We consider that we’re necessary to use the available opportunities and also think over new ones inherent in the web environment as media formats. The interest in our stories depends on how we’re telling, and in this way...

I guess I'm getting the impression that English isn't their first language, so maybe this is kind of a cheap shot, but gadzooks.

we believe that reading experience on the web must be fully interactive and social.

I'd prefer to leave it as just, well, readable. To be honest, this looks more like an advertisement for their services as a boutique design firm than any kind of platform for people to build a magazine on. I'm having a little trouble how envisioning stellar long-form journalism from the likes of, say, Harper's would be enhanced through the use of these techniques. On the other hand, maybe that's not the sort of magazine they have in mind.
posted by whir at 12:34 PM on August 9, 2012

More importantly, what's the business model?

Why is this more important?
posted by Jimbob at 6:33 PM on August 9, 2012

Given that zines are crude approximations of slick magazines (and proud of it), maybe the aesthetic here makes perfect sense.
posted by Rykey at 6:37 PM on August 9, 2012

More importantly, what's the business model?

Why is this more important?

Good point.

If you've got a product or service nobody wants, it doesn't really matter how you plan to get paid for it.
posted by notyou at 7:26 AM on August 10, 2012

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