Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Visceral bodily signals: where old can meet the new.

We just completed a best practices study of how major U.S. corporations integrate licensed content into intranets. Of course, our findings will be forthcoming in one of our Shore reports for your purchasing and reading pleasure! One of the companies mentioned their subscriptions to Zinio and how the younger scientists would love to have this on their BlackBerries. They love the page flipping.

I've been reviewing Zinio's magazine technology. In case you are not familiar with their products, they take an issue of a magazine and place it in their technology content container. This allows you to see the exact pages on your computer screen, create sticky notes, search on words, etc.

Why is this intriguing to me? It's cool. I love the search capability and the live links so I can click through to anything that hits my fancy. For me, the think-do action produces instant gratification (something my 20 year old daughter loves) and creative insight (since I consider something like reading a magazine play, not work). It's play that drives our creativity and is part of what differentiates the U.S. knowledge worker.

What are the drawbacks and can I overcome them? I don't like to sit at my desk and read magazines. I like to feel relaxed and comfortable doing this and my desk is a symbol of work time. Sure I have a laptop with a wireless connection so I could unplug and go sit elsewhere. It does work on the Tablet PC, but I don't own one of those. I want it to be more portable like my MP3 player.

That reminds me of the keynote presentation at the 1994 CAUSE conference (higher education technology) where Jennifer James, a cultural anthropologist talked about the electronic book. From her perspective, there needs to be the familiar coupled with the new. Leave the facade, then you're free to introduce the change. I can still see her image of a leather covered book. It can read to you (like my Text Aloud software) or you can read it in any size or color font. Of course, you can search and highlight text, but I don't remember her mentioning connecting with hypertext links to the Internet!

Back to Zinio, they do have a good marketing approach. By viewing for free the first 20 pages of a magazine, I was hooked enough to click on the "why not subscribe now" button. My guess is their click-through conversion rate is pretty high!

At this moment, I don't have the answers for what I see as the drawbacks. Yet the technology was compelling enough for me to shell out $9.99 for 22 issues of PC Magazine. If I come up with more creative ways to "read" this content, I'l report back.
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