Readable Web At AnEventApart, Boston

May 23, 2010

Boston, Massachusetts  Readable Web is getting out of the office this year. I’ll be attending and reporting on a wide variety of events.

Starting with:

AnEventApart, Boston

I’ve never attended one of Zeldman & Meyer’s traveling road shows before and I can’t wait. The event kicks off tonight with a meet and greet at the Westin Copley Hotel sponsored by Extensis who is here to preview their new web font service WebInk.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting pics, twittering, muttering, commenting about just how tall Jeff Veen really looks in person, and reporting on everything and anything that happens to spark an idea in my brain.

Details on this conference and upcoming Event Apart conferences here.

Update: After-Conference Thoughts

Call it what you want: web design, digital publishing, whatever – the problems exist on two levels.

Problem 1: Cutting The Bullshit

This problem is not unique to digital publishing but to all publishing: staying on message, staying focused, writing clearly, keeping it brief – all the trite truisms are just as true today as they were when David Ogilvy wrote Ogilvy On Advertising in 1983 and Rudolph Flesch wrote The Art Of Readable Writing in 1949. Nobody is going to give you or your product more than a passing glance. At least at first. Waste people’s time and they’re gone. Click.

This is why I perked up when Luke Wroblewski argued that you should design your small-screen mobile experience first and build your desktop experience from that kernel. I agree. Working from the inside out like that imposes a discipline that would probably not exist if you started with the desktop experience. And if you can’t seem to cut it all down to it’s essence for an iPhone or Android, it’s time to ask yourself why the site exists in the first place.

Problem 2: Re-Tasking Content For Different Devices And Screen Sizes

It used to be that the difference between user agents (browsers) was the thing that drove web authors crazy. Yes, there are still issues, but it’s easy to envision a time in the near future when that won’t be anything more than an occasional and minor annoyance. The monster facing us now is different devices and screen sizes. This is a tough one – and the mental tools publishers need are just beginning to coalesce.

Recently, on, designer John Hudson made the observation that, to him, websites in general resembled scrapbooks. For some reason I’ve been thinking about that comment a lot and finally realized why: minus the negative connotations of the word “scrap”, they are scrapbooks. Chunks of information being fed in and out from disparate sources on the network and placed together on the same “page”. The equivalent of taking chunks of five or six pages of a book or magazine and pasting them together. Even in an era of relatively high resolution screens this will still be the case. Content must be chunked so it can reflow into its container. And connectedness is a requirement – the idea of an “e-book” on an “e-reader” disconnected from the net is already preposterous – even though we’ll be living with that situation for some time to come.

I got a new TV delivered today. It’s connected to the network, too. A TV with web apps. A giant iPad. Who’d a thunk?

And, oh, yeah. Just to cap off AnEventApart, Boston:

How Tall Is Jeffrey Veen?

Meeting Jeff Veen in person was a bit of a shock, really. For a guy who writes and speaks about all this web stuff, turns out the guy’s tall enough to be my father!


Oops, Capped Off Too Soon

[A Bit More On An EventApart, Boston] Here’s a nice roundup of the event called Themes From AnEventApart Boston with a link also, to Luke Wroblewski’s extensive notes from the conference. Also, Luke and the concept of “Mobile First” gets a treatment on the Big Web Show.

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