Is Mobile Hurting Attention?

There’s some magic peace that comes over me when I’m not constantly looking at my iPhone. I really noticed it after two weeks of not doing it. After a few days of withdrawal, the calm appears. My brain is no longer jangly, the dopamine effect of “hey – another email, another tweet” goes away, and I actually am much faster at processing whatever I’ve got on a 27? screen than on a little tiny thing that my v47 eyes are struggling to read.  My Smart Phone Is No Longer Working For Me – Feld Thoughts.

Mobile is so good, yet also so far from fully delivering the right contextual relevance to avoid being a continuous distraction rather than assistant. Part of this is our own weakness with regard to notifications, but part of it is technology and that will hopefully be solved soon enough. I think this is beyond mobile as well but since that’s what stays in-hand all the time it’s the most important.

Disney Research re-imagines the pop-up book #maker style and it’s awesome

Disney Research has pioneered a method to create new interactive experiences with paper, some simple electronics and some conductive ink. The result is really, really cool. With three kids we’ve worked our way through many books together many of which have had some interactive components through flaps and folds and even sound or simple lights. Eventually they all kinda wear out … a kid is too rough and they tear or the battery simply dies and the book loses its extra fun. With this technique, we could pretty easily print and rebuild. We could probably remix the book as well which is where things could really start to get creative.

Batteries not included … and not required!

via FastCo

Keeping track of everything?

Russell Beattie just posted a great overview of an after-hours project he’s been working on to build a better reader. I’ve been quite loyal to Google Reader as I suppose many info-junkies and given the number of things I’m tracking in there it would be hard to move.

While Google Reader is far from beautiful (though admittedly much nicer with Readable installed) it’s been the hardest working tool I’ve come across in my many years of absorbing it all. I’ve long since really given up on trying to tag feeds too diligently or manage the subscriptions is useful folders. My flow is just that … a flow. I view all and crank through as much as I can per session. I don’t get bogged down with unread vs read items – it’s impossible to do anyway.

Social represents another opportunity for inputs, and that’s a nice way to discover some other things, though I generally find the most within the first pinned tab … which is where Reader lives for me. It’s essential.

Mobile is huge as well and while Reader remains completely un-sexy in presentation, I’ve yet to find an app that beats direct access for efficiency. Loading and downloading stories to read is time, I’d rather spend reading even if the presentation might be a touch nicer … when it comes to information, it’s all about the general consumption, rather than the taste.

WSJ is an anti-sharing publication

As a paying subscriber to the WSJ, I’d like to share some things I read with people. I do this from a lot of publications, but only the WSJ uses the social exchange opportunity to close the paywall.  Anyone who clicks on these links gets a very limited view and no way to read the full thing.    Pretty lame.

Reading on Android

Following my last post I though it would be interesting to show a quick comparison between the options for InstaPaper (InstaFetch), ReaditLater and Readability. This is far from scientific and really just a single article but in my experience still highlights the reading experience. Of course this is purely subjective and your preferences may vary.

As I was perusing Flipboard over coffee I found a good piece with lots of links to catch up on. Here’s the first I decided to read … before becoming distracted with this test.

Here’s what that piece looks like via InstaFetch:



And now in ReaditLater:


And finally in Readability:


Readability stands as my favorite as it tends to render the cleanest copy and also provides a terrific desktop experience if you want to use it there. Both InstaFetch and ReaditLater can sync in the background which is great for offline access. Readability is perfect for real-time conversions … at least until the app appears when I expect it will suit the full range.


Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

This is a really slick prototype for a future e-magazine reader.  I really like how they are not looking to make it play video or fake the page turn.  The experience is focused and lets you enjoy reading – yet in a beautiful digitally enhanced manner.

I recommend playing the video back in fullscreen mode.

My Kindle is dressed in leather and ready for bed

M-Edge Executive Jacket

That’s about as racy a headline as I could think of for the Kindle, and though it might grab your attention!  I picked up an M-Edge Executive Jacket and e-Luminator on Matt Miller’s recommendation and know immediately this was a wise move.

M-Edge Executive Jacket

If you have one, you know the Kindle’s case is lame.  It only holds the device on one side and it can easily slide out and fall if you are not paying attention.  I tend to only keep my Kindle in the case for transport and read with it removed.  The M-Edge Executive Jacket may serve the same function though without risk of the Kindle falling out and with considerable style.  The e-Luminator light is a paired accessory that as you might expect illuminates the screen and lets you read in low to no light situations – something that is basically impossible without an external light source.  The light slides into a pre-made slot in the case which is an excellent touch.  The battery is  an A23 (first one I’ve seen) and is reported to last for hours … I’ll let you know if it’s not something you can count on.

I’ve got some more pictures on flickr if you’d like to get a feel for how the Kindle is covered when the case is closed.  So far so good!