There’s a new service from Google called Fast Flip. The aim is to more closely replicate how people flip through the news, so that we can “consume” news more quickly. I feel a bout of indigestion coming on.
However, as we all know, delivering information effectively isn’t just about speed, it’s just as much about content and searchability. It has Google’s search technology behind it and Fast Flip has some interesting content coverage – 30 providers so far ranging from the BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Popular Mechanics and Technology Review to Elle, Fast Company and Goodhousekeeping. Yes, well there should be something for everyone there!
Oh my, I’ve started laughing, why is this so funny? Perhaps it’s the somewhat over-the-top, over-keen description. Hey folks, this is “a new reading experience”! Is it? Really? The reading bit actually felt just the same to me, what’s new(-ish) is the presentation format. I say “ish” because it’s not as if the screenshot format is a first-ever, check out Newseum.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an interesting idea and progresses the move towards a more browsable interface – the screenshots of front pages give the user that “as originally printed” feel. It will no doubt develop over the coming months and I expect it will be popular. If it improves users’ ability to browse around or search and find specific news items that they want then it should be successful. It may even help “boost the flagging fortunes of the news industry” as the BBC’s article notes.
The thing that strikes me most though, is why this is not really a new reading experience. It is the paradox of what is defined as innovative and progressive in electronic information provision. I quote from the BBC article: “Fast Flip imitates a conventional print publication by offering screenshots of the web pages containing relevant articles.”
So, electronic information is shamelessly striving to become more and more like its print predecessor? Interesting. It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, will it also turn out to be disruptive?