Before the end of the year a complete social networking layer is to be rolled out as a part of a new Wired magazine iPad-app, updating the app first introduced in May this year. So says Chris Anderson editor in chief at Wired magazine in an email-interview I had the chance to conduct with him (I briefly know Chris Anderson from a conference he and I both attended last year, resulting in this co-written post). Why is this interesting? Because Wired magazine is among the vanguard of iPad publishers, staking out new ground for the entire publishing industry.
The emailing took place after I had spotted – and blogged – a new “thin” Facebook-integration in one particular article in the November issue of Wired (which you can read here: Wired iPad goes social: integrates Facebook as external pages).
In my blog post I called the move “pretty unambitious” and noted that I as reader actually care about what others think of the article I’m reading, and that there surely has to be ways to make this way more prominent. And in my starting email to Chris Anderson I followed up by stating that I am “looking forward to more in-depth twitter-like functionality”
“We’ve got a proper social media layer coming into our app later this year” he replied back. And although he didn’t want to go to much into details before the launch, I did get a little something more out him.
“Looking forward to more in-depth twitter-like functionality. Personally I think Flipboard is awesome. Might be some learnings there” I wrote to him, in the correspondence. (Flipboard is an iPad-app which takes your twitter-account, grabs all the links, and produces a magazine-like flip-pages experience out of all the goodies the ones you follow care to mention (read a post I did on Flipboard here)).
Chris picked up on this one, stating “I love Flipboard, too, and we’ll definitely be taking tips from them”.
The combination of the somewhat lofty “social media layer”-terminology combined with Chris’ appraisal of Flipboard, gives you a hint something is brewing. Though it’s kind of tough to say exactly what.
Before speculating to hard, one should be aware that the concept of the Wired iPad is one of well-packaged control. The Wired iPad edition is the printed magazine translated as gently and intelligent as possible to the tablet form factor. In the correspondence I asked Chris Anderson to the defining characteristics of their iPad app. This is how he replied:
“Magazines get their value from the packaging of content, with design, long-form writing, luxurious photography, illustration etc. (…) So the notion of a well-designed package, with all the pieces designed to work together and create a coherent whole, stands out from the atomized world of web content.”
From this I get that we should expect a social layer which respects the unity of the Wired magazine iPad edition. That is: comments won’t inline in articles, and will generally be presented in a way, that interferes as little as possible with the reading experience itself. Most likely a seperate pane will appear when tapping or swiping the iPad in a special way. Like the way the navigation panes works in the Wired iPad app today. Probably a little “share”-icon next to the title or at the end of the article will urge you to spread the news and indicate of the activity of commenting.
Confronting this approach to the Flipboard-approach reveals to very different guiding principles. The Flipboard-approach relies on a single set of people to follow, but from thereon Flipboard publishes whatever these persons care to link to, no matter where the content originates from – and no matter what “editorial package” the content originally appeared in. I therefore take the “we’ll definitively be taking tips from them” to indicate high standards, more than a copying of the basic concept.
One of the interesting things to see is to which extend the social media layer of the wired.com website will integrate to the social media layer of the ipad-edition. Chances are they will, I’d say. Actually this is one of the great strenghts of the Wired cross-platform publishing (print, web, tablet) – that the social activity around the content can be shared across platforms as well. When the same article is to be found on wired.com website, fully equipped with commenting and social media integration, the discussion on wired.com and on the Wired iPad-edition could actually be the very same. Meaning that a comment made on wired.com would automatically show up on the Wired iPad-edition as well and vice versa.
By the same token, sharing an article would also be platform-independent. Otherwise sharing an iPad-article would be somewhat in vain, since it would require the one you share the article with to actually be a Wired-iPad-edition subscriber himself in order to access the article. But when the article is also on the web, the non-iPad-edition subscriber will just open up the web-edition instead.
Related posts, based on the same interview:
During the email-correspondance, Chris Anderson pointed to several other very interesting aspects of the Wired iPad-experience. I’ve written those up in seperate posts. Read on: