Notable things: Stop making magazines “interactive,” that mannequin is tracking you, I need an in-store app for hard-to-find products

Esquire wants its print edition to be more interactive. From the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog:

With the new app [Netpage] … Esquire is offering interactivity without changing the print design, outside of a few text reminders guiding readers to try out the new app. Every bit of the magazine can be recognized by the app and saved on readers’ smartphones as a high-resolution pdf. That means readers of the print magazine will be able to tweet a story easily, rather than having to go and find the web site version, which sometimes isn’t posted until later.

Let’s be clear: Tweeting a print story will never be “easy.” Nor should it be. Print isn’t digital. It doesn’t flow and it cannot be recombined without pushing content through a conversion meat grinder (or grabbing a pair of scissors). But that’s okay. Print is print, and print is just fine.

I understand Esquire’s impulse to try new technologies — it’s got a history of such things — but what if publishers focused on platform refinement instead of bolting electronic gimmicks on to print pages? Tablet editions can improve (boy can they). Online can improve. Print can improve. There’s lots of work to be done.

The magazine world’s fixation on a print-digital mash-up has been a bad idea since the CueCat. Let it go.


And in other physical-digital news …

That’s not a mannequin. That’s a first-gen Terminator.

The EyeSee mannequin has an embedded camera (behind the eye, natch) that “feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by.”

More info here.

It sounds creepy, but keep in mind that virtually every retail website you visit has its own set of “eyes.”

Besides, the title of World’s Creepiest Mannequin was claimed 25 years ago:


Here’s something I want / need: An app (or apps) that show me where products are located within a store. I’ve wasted precious hours of my life searching for ridiculous things — adapters and crackers and toys and tools … it’s such a long and sad list.

The introduction of organic aisles in supermarkets has been particularly tough on me. How am I supposed to know if a product is organic or not? And sometimes, there’s the organic version and the regular version (Annie’s, I’m looking at you).

So where’s my in-store app? I want to fire up my phone, initiate a search and have it reveal that those damn felt furniture pads are two aisles over, next to the Velcro (because “Velcro” and “felt furniture pads” are so obviously related …).

Hey Amazon, this is what you need to do with the Kindle

Books lock content into a container by default. There’s no easy way to excerpt or share or disseminate. But digital sets that content free, and that means hardware that delivers digital content needs to facilitate that freedom. False obstacles that…

Books lock content into a container by default. There’s no easy way to excerpt or share or disseminate. But digital sets that content free, and that means hardware that delivers digital content needs to facilitate that freedom. False obstacles that seek to duplicate the limitations of print are ridiculous. Hear that, Amazon?

Thankfully — seriously, thank God for this — it looks like magazine publishers are getting the message. From the New York Times:

Sports Illustrated’s demonstration version — developed with the Wonderfactory, a design firm — lets readers organize the magazine by subjects like baseball or football. They can circle photographs or articles and use a toolbar to e-mail an article, print it, view comments, view related items, see relevant Twitter posts or save the article to a favorites file. They can rearrange the order of the issue, see dozens of photos that don’t make it into print and pull live scores from all the teams they follow. [Link and emphasis added.]

One last thing. I try to include a source link with all of my tweets and excerpts; just a little something that allows people to go deeper if they’re so inclined. That’s why tablet editions need a link-to feature. It could take the form of a web-based version of the article (with advertising and marketing all around it, of course). Perhaps it’s some sort of intermediate, email-to-a-friend edition. Maybe it’s an iTunes-esque redirect. I really don’t care what the links look like. They just need to be there.