Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Mobile Reading Experience

I'm intrigued by the options available to readers using mobile devices--not so much the kind of thing reading twitter feeds gives you, but the efforts that people are making to get people to think differently about the reading experience, using mobile devices and multimodal writing to leverage the capabilities of new devices to make reading different and "better."

I've tried out several new efforts in this direction with my iPhone, including Device 6, Frankenstein, and Sherlock Holmes, all efforts to translate the novel into a new form.  Device 6 is an offering from Simogo that tells an original story that forces the reader to rotate the reading device (it disables the gyroscope feature on a phone) and to engage with motion images on screen.  It's the most ambitious in that it tells a new mystery story that's built for the device, not re-imagining an old story. I'll be interested to see new stories like this one emerge as writers and programmers work together to create new stories.

Frankenstein, from inkle studios, is a re-telling or re-imagining of the classic story by Mary Shelly.  They call their work an interactive novel, and, like Device 6, reading the work involves guiding and choosing for the main character, working in part with the interactive images on screen.  It's unique in that readers can choose to have the text read to them, rather than reading it for themselves.
Another item on my list is Sherlock Interactive, a version of one of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries that again requires the reader to engage with interactive images, zooming in on scenes and noticing and collecting information.  This work has the most richly created images of the three, with 3D videos that accompany the narrative.
There's no available promotional video that I could find, but there is this review in Russian on Youtube:
In all, the three represent some impressive efforts to bring reading to the iPhone and iPad.  We'll see what happens as a result.

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