TED Conversations

Mike Matas

Paper - Product Designer, Push Pop Press

TEDCRED 200+

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LIVE CHAT with Mike Matas: Monday, May 2nd, 1PM-2:30PM EST *UPDATE: Extended through May 6th*

Mike is online Monday May 2nd, from 1-2:30PM Eastern Standard Time for a live TED Conversation regarding his TED talk and next-generation digital book, Al Gore's "Our Choice".

Join with questions about:

--How Push Pop Press tried to retain what people love about books when translating into a digital form
--The user interface design for the book
--How the app is different than a website
--Mike's views and thoughts on where computer user interfaces are heading.
--Your own questions

ADMIN EDIT: Mike has asked us to keep the thread open until Friday! He (and potentially some of his colleagues at Push Pop Press), will be checking in occasionally to answer more questions throughout the week.

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    May 3 2011: Thank you for making an amazing book and pushing the envelope on digital publishing.

    Since we are in such early state of digital publishing, what is your take on the competition? Ex- Adobe, Woodwing, etc.
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    May 2 2011: As a teacher I see books like these could get much more children back to reading (if you can call it reading). Thanks a lot, Mike!
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      May 2 2011: Thank Gaits. Melcher Media the team that produced the content for Our Choice had a goal of telling the entire story of the text though images, videos, and interactive graphics. Even if you never read the body text in the book and just look though the images and videos and read the captions you will still get a lot out of the book. Different people learn in different ways and I think this medium opens up the information to a much wider audience than before.
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      May 2 2011: I'd agree with you Gatis. I've always been a voracious reader, but what Mike has created could've added a new element to my readings, especially the science fiction books.

      On a side, but related note, I don't think getting kids to read books has really been an issue. I think the reasons that kids are asked to read are conflicting in schools and at home. We have educators like yourself who will use these books as a positive tool. Then we have other educators who use reading as a form of punishment. The latter was put to use more frequently in my education and at home.
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        May 2 2011: I can definitely agree with you, Corvida!
        I see that medium is very important in delivering the knowledge and traditional books are a little "too old-school" for most of the students. As Mike says - even if you never read the body text in the book and just look though the images and videos and read the captions you will still get a lot out of the book. I see it as a perfect tool for my students in class and at home.
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          May 2 2011: Are the books old-school or is the content of the books old school?

          I see a lot of "historical" titles that are put on kids reading lists in schools today. What's hailed in high regard in literature is usually irrelevant in many ways (though not ALL the time) to my generation (Millennial) from a historical standpoint.

          The visuals help, but even with the visuals I can name a few peers who would pass on the TOPIC. : )

          Though I do agree that pictures and videos certainly help to capture attention and extend engagement.
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    May 2 2011: Any plans to make this service available to people outside the sphere of apple Ipad & Iphone? Android in the pipeline?
  • May 5 2011: Hey Mike!

    My nephew wants me to ask you, dose your idea come from the newspaper of Harry Potter?
  • May 2 2011: Publishing to multiple platforms can be time-consuming and expensive.
    What made you decide to make the book available for IOS devices instead of Android or other platforms? Will the book be available for Android devices in the future as well? Will the publishing platform support Android devices?
  • May 2 2011: Hi Mike

    I was wondering if you guys have thought about including Charities or NGOs, in the beta programme?
  • May 2 2011: I think PPP looks and works great, though I find it very limiting that it is only available on Apple products. Are there plans to make the same books available (albeit potentially in a slightly different format) on a) other tablet computers and b) on mouse/keyboard computers?

    One way to solve this is to have web versions (possibly only accessible via paid subscriptions) of those books, to make them more accessible. With current web technologies (HTML4/CSS/JS/Flash), all of the features I've seen in PPP are possible, though admittedly, a good implementation would be quite difficult/time consuming. With HTML5 however, a good implementation would take a reasonable amount of effort to make, and would be available to a much, much larger audience. Are there any such plans in PPP's future?

    I think the whole idea is fantastic, I just hope it can be more accessible.

    Oh and as for the name, I like the name multimedium myself... i.e. Our Choice is the first true multimedium. The plural being multimediums, of course.
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    May 2 2011: Thanks again for answering our questions Mike.

    I'm wondering how you see the longevity of the digital book evolve over time. Right now, an ebook lives on my device and as a backup file living inside my device's backup data. If I leave the platform, I lose access to the book. Forever. Where do you see compatibility/transportability of digital books taking us in the next few years? Will my kids be able to check out Our Choice years from now on their own tablets?
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    May 2 2011: Mike,

    I come from online scholarly journal/book publishing and I love the elegant design and ease of use you demo-ed during the TED talk. I've noticed that many book apps for the iPad and for the web have tried to mimic the user experience for print as much as possible (e.g. page turning, book marks, page numbers, etc.). To what extent do you think we will start to see departures from that design model for books in the future? What will be the most significant change? And, in your opinion is the barrier to change mostly technological or mostly behavioral/cultural?

    --Julie
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      May 2 2011: I see one of the biggest barriers to the change from print to digital to be the experience of reading. A lot of people I talk with say that they love the experience of reading a printed book because they can immerse themselves in the content and "get lost in the book". I think in the transition form print to digital we can not loose that ability to get lost in the content. The focus has to stay on the content rather than the technology.
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        May 2 2011: Thanks Mike -- I agree 100%. One of the frustrations users have with web-based material is having to figure out how it works and whether or not they have access. Digital rights management solutions now in place for much online material impede the user's progress through the material (not to mention distracting ads and pop-up surveys). The beauty of an app is that you get the ease of navigation without the barriers and distractions.

        Thanks for doing the live Q&A!
  • May 2 2011: I love the navigation of your digital book. Other magazine apps lose me. Will I be able to buy your creation software and then self publish my own work?
  • May 2 2011: What was the thought process that went into designing the interface for this product (i.e. what were the key points you and your team wanted to address for transitioning from traditional to digital)?
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      May 2 2011: We though a lot about the balance between reinventing the book and moving forward with some of the things that make todays books great. We did not want the interactivity to make the content more complex and harder to navigate so we decided to stay with the traditional form of an author telling a linear story. We made sure each page had something interesting to explore but also required about the same amount of time to explore so the pace that you move though the book would be steady. You always feel like your making progress and moving though the book. To help with that we decided to show a little bit of the previous and next page to give you a sense that this was one continues narrative. I find it a little claustrophobic when you just see one page with no sense of there people more to the book. When you hold a printed book you can see the edge of the book and can see your holding a book and you kinda get a rough sense of where you are in the book and where your going. On a screen if you don't go out of your way to show this the reading experience feels really discontinues.
  • May 2 2011: I thought I read in the Wired write up that the tool will be sold and will be aimed not just at publishers, but anyone who wants to publish in this format. Assuming that my understanding/recollection is correct - I'm curious as to what kind of learning curve there will be for a tool like this? Will it be all drag and drop, or will you have to know Objective C to use it?
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      May 2 2011: The platform we are building is not a development environment but are a layout tool (and much more user-friendly), but we can’t announce any specific details on the product quite yet.
      • May 2 2011: Can you tell us when it will be sold?
      • May 2 2011: Mike - that is very encouraging to hear! Heck, even if parents could compose simple picture books for their children for home use, this would still be outstanding. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what the tools look like when they are available!
  • May 2 2011: Hi Mike - I'm excited by the platform approach. Do you intend to license to only publishers, or also to authors for self-publication? Any estimates on timeframes? Any rough idea on business model of license?
  • May 6 2011: Mike, what you, Gore, et al. are creating is an expanded Experience-bequeathing Exposition: an Experion. Or whatever. As such, you're going far beyond provoking the imagination and sense of experience that a treasured book does so often.

    But I believe at least as you've begun with Gore and Choice, you're selling yourselves short. You're way beyond "informing" or "information" that you indicated as your contribution in a post here. You're in the wondrous land of Learning and Knowledge generation. Although I'm hardcore Apple, here I have to give a credit nod to Google and their signature requirements: accessibility and usefulness.

    Particularly for non-experts, ordinary folk, which is vast for Our Choice, the visual tools and ease of use make a convoluted, controversial topic such as climate change, understandable, i.e., assimilable.

    It is learning and knowledge we can use to better our lives, that should be the desired result, product, value of technology. For only with learning creating knowledge and understanding, can we act to make our own lives and by extension our world better and better.

    Certainly Al Gore wants us to above all learn and understand Climate Change and with that knowledge—Act: in this case, vote, write letters, convince others, etc. Many other people working with PPP will want to empower people as well in their own realms.

    Push Pop Press' promise to me is not just "informing," but providing real comprehension through these Experions or whatever you choose to call them. Congrats on an invention of real societal merit!
  • May 6 2011: Will you be designing space for advertisements? (this may have been asked, but didn't see it). I am saying this because the production costs are quite high for well produced content (including photos, videos, flash, what have you, along with rights to content and production time). Most publishers will find this difficult to justify for the majority of their books, as will independent/self-publishers and educators. Something will need to off-set those costs.
  • May 6 2011: It's not what it is, it's how it will be used to address eco-illiteracy
    Conversation: I think this app, book, whatever you want to call it has a great potential to address a core problem that underlines inaction on the environment. The majority of the population, in industry, government, NGOs, the public do not have the basics in understanding what they have or do that impacts the planet. In Canada alone a 1% shift in behavior change in small business alone could mean $2 billion savings. This is not 'tree-hugging', this is about optimizing processes, products and services - it's about greening our collective productivity.

    Will your collaboration foster materials that are well written, factual, technically correct. Can it be used to enhance literacy, not just in schools, but as part of a life learning situation? I certainly think it will make it fun - and fun can be dangerously close to the opportunity to be positive and productive. Mike, did you consider the life cycle costs of using this technology over paper?

    I am particularly interested in how it can optimize learning in small business, to help them go green. Can it actually reduce time and optimize learning? What are the costs? How soon will the product be ready to use?
  • May 5 2011: Hi Mike
    That's great idea,and looking forward to see the digital form
  • May 4 2011: Hi Mike! The first time I saw the book running in a video demo I felt I had to download it right away to experience it (and maybe even read it ;). And so I did! I also thought the future of books (and not only books) in tablet devices and similar must be something like this.

    But I noticed and missed some features I consider key when it comes to the "interaction" with your book. I'm talking about selecting text to copy, highlight or search in a dictionary, changing the font type or size, and other features already built into some more traditional eBook readers.

    Do you think some of those features will be added in the final or future releases of your framework? Thanks a lot!! :)
  • May 4 2011: Regarding "getting rid of the UI" in touch interfaces, how far do you think this can go? Our Choice really benefits from direct manipulation of its content in this way (minimising the use of buttons and icons), but do you think there is potential for use of this approach more widely, for example, in apps where you are creating content rather than manipulating existing content?
  • May 3 2011: Amazing. This is where the ipad is taking us. My son can't understand how I find it so amazing everytime I use my ipad. He sees it as being current whilst this 50 year old finds it so amazing. The point of this is that this is what he has grown to expect. He spends his life using and playing on computers and learning for him has got to make interactive use of text, images, graphics, sound, video and audio.
    As somebody said below this is a solid step towards convergence.
    Brilliant! I'll stop now as if I use amazing one more time you'll start to think I copied this from a Steve Jobs presentation!
    Peter Roddis
    activesafety.org
  • May 3 2011: What do you think of free textbook publishers such as bookboon.com that makes textbooks available for free through ads?
  • May 3 2011: will this platform be availlable for other languages soon? Thanks.
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    May 3 2011: I'm very excited by where digital publishing is headed and would love to try out the Push Pop platform once it's available.
  • May 2 2011: I really don't know what all the fuss is about. This app does not work anyway. It requires WiFi which is not mentioned on the Apple website and if you do find WiFi it simply does not work. For your 5 bucks you get a 3 minute speech from Al Gore and a pretty spinning picture of the world.

    DO NOT BUY THIS APP!
    • May 2 2011: We've heard a few reports of this from users with shaky network connections. We're looking into a software fix but in the meantime follow up with us support@pushpoppress.com. We should be able to get unstuck in no time.
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    May 2 2011: Its a Best Digital book for our modern generation....
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    May 2 2011: Hi there!

    I must say your program brings media rich presentation to a whole new level. It is outstanding.

    The questions I wish to ask are questions to you, and to anyone else you work with, if they would be so kind as to share their thoughts.

    Firstly, why have you (personally) created this?

    Secondly, will you openly share the technology itself, for instance, under open source?

    Thirdly, if you are planning something like opensource, why?
    if you are not considering something like opensource, why not?


    Thanks for your time.

    Leo!
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    May 2 2011: Hi Mike! I'm wondering if the one title - one app approach is a working concept if people have many titles purchased. Are you planning a dedicated reader app (that competes with iBooks)?
    Also, what happens when I buy just 10 titles, but those are ~500 megs each? Will it be possible to delete only the assets of a certain title to gain free space?
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    May 2 2011: your program was so awesome and even i have lot of questions to ask to you mike and well once again thanks thank you very much mike