From the desk of Alasdair Monk
Reflections on So & So
If you're reading this, then hopefully you'll know about So & So, the subject of this post, which today (18 June 2012) published its last issue. It was published about twice a month and hoped to serve as a part of the internet that is crafted, calming and above all, interesting. My goal with So & So was to demonstrate the web as a ground for publishing well written content within a considered context.
Obviously, this has been done before – but it still seems to be a niche effort. Content management systems that deal only with templates and rigid structure are probably largely to blame for the lack of imagination for aesthetic web literature.
It is still my belief that long form content hasn't found it's voice on the web; a medium with so much potential and so little constraint, that it seems to beguile the most intelligent and cogitative of publishers.
I look at some of the most respectable content producers on the planet making truly progressive experiences for users on the iPad and iPhone, but who turn a blind eye when it comes to their own website which exists only as a means to cram as many words as possible between attention demanding blocks of garish banner ads.
I believe it comes down to respect.
A lot of businesses still don't give their website, their digital shopfront for the vast majority of their customers, the respect it deserves, preferring to sink fortunes into all sorts of gimmicks and shallow short-lived mediums.
There are of course, companies who excel in all sorts of places in digital sphere (the BBC, I believe, do exceedingly well all round), but I'm talking more about small to medium sized businesses.
It is these small enterprises that, like a moth to a searing halogen lightbulb, are compelled towards costly and largely pointless exploits in the techno-wilderness. iPhone apps that have twenty times the budget of the company website, but attain a handful of downloads, are seldom updated and finally callously forgotten like a Furby in the attic.
The web is a brilliant open medium where the most imaginative and boundless creations can exist, and yet I feel it is still not embraced as such. The Flash brochure websites of yesteryear aren't trendy anymore – people don't get excited about websites all that often. Meanwhile, apps take up column inches in newspapers and are discussed with friends and colleagues an infinite amount more. This in turn creates the illusion that apps are a sensible thing to invest in, which for a lot of businesses, they simply aren't. They're far more costly & complicated to build than things for the web, harder to update, incompatible with competing platforms and so on. The Financial Times clearly cottoned onto this when they transitioned their iOS app into a web app, making it available for a much larger userbase and massively simplifying their deployment process.
I'm not saying for a second that making native apps is a bad idea, there's a huge amount of positive points I could write about them, but they aren't the only solution that some people have made them out to be.
A huge thanks to everyone that contributed to So & So in some way. In no particular order; Simon Whybray, Daniel Gray, Adam Johnson, Lucy Anne-Ronayne, Jamie White, Sam Williams and many others – without whom, none of it would've happened.
Now read Blame your tools