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This Is Not A Page Turner

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Okay, we’ve had the Internet.

Let’s ask a question: Did the web level the genetic playing field, or are the peaks and the pits further away than ever?

Let’s go back to the beginning of the technology ramp for a second. Perhaps there really were some Einsteins among rock men, but, hey, their world was rocks – so how could they outshine their peers? Why, they did outshine their peers, you say. Yes, but was the contrast between low and high as ridiculous as it is today?

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Enter Spritz, a content absorption game changer that may stretch the genetic vault even more. Hidden in research labs since 2011, the serial visual reader app shepherded by Samsung is beginning to leak out into the social consciousness. Try it for yourself on Spritz’s page

It’s no Singularity, but maybe it can keep humans smarter than machines a little while longer. Let’s think about it for a minute. The Internet is simply a universe of interconnected stars, a constellation of dots and lines … but many dots are still floating, and some lines aren’t yet connected to the correct dot. (To be frank, it’s probably why the Internet was invented in the first place – to connect it all. Think the Wikipedia logo.) We’re each born into a race for survival based on how well we can out-dot-connect our peers. It’s the ‘you-don’t-have-to-run-faster-than-the-bear, just-faster-than-your-friend’ conundrum.

Here’s the big however, though. The more access every son of Adam has to the same technology the question then becomes — and this is why Spritz is so tantalizing — processing speed. Gigahertz. It’s 1849 again and Spritz is there to get you to the gold before your peers can even rev up their Conestoga.

POTENTIAL

The Internet has learned to like smaller typography over the years (Graphic Designers, give yourselves a pat on the back), but the geriatric hordes can still Cmd -+ their web pages. Will blogs now offer the traditional written version, but with a Spritz bar at the top for time conscious users?

How will this affect mobile? Articles are chosen based on who has the prettiest secretary at the front of the office. Once in the door, Spritz shoves the less attractive employees aside and it’s all text.

What does this do to Kindle? It’s not about 4/3 or 16/9, it’s a strip! A simple bar! A tab! But let’s skip that and just think about Google Glass. You blink and Spritz stops, you blink again and it resumes. Exciting implications.

Will one’s physical digestion rate be able to be detected? Will WPM ramp up based on user, based on blinks, based on mood settings?

PROBLEMS

When one considers the static medium from a UX perspective, the interaction is active and oftentimes nonlinear. Sure, there’s a grab bag of predefined specifics but you’re not there to change them; you’re there to absorb them.

With Spritz, it’s a passive and linear video. The pace is predetermined; even if you choose 600wpm, what happens when you look away? Sure, you can pause and reset, for you dare not scrub. But how do you locate a lost word when it’s no less prominent visually than any other instantaneous textual flash? Sorry. You can’t tell your mind it was in the bottom right half of the page. Such intense laser focus won’t work for film subtitles – it’s basically either all image or all Spritz – no art and copy anymore. It’s a book without pictures, unless you dress up the jacket.

People will always complain about the latest Gasper Noe epilepsy fit, but could this truly do the same to our brains? Not after the first 5 minutes, but over a decade. Guess we’ll have to wait as we still attempt to discover just what a human being really is. In terms of advertising, what was epileptic in one sense becomes subliminal in another. For an interruptive advertising model that is essentially speed bumps and toll booths, does every 49th frame feature foreign content?

“Why, this proves that typography doesn’t matter, it’s just about legibility!” Really? Really? Think about when we switched from Highway Gothic to Clearview. Only the lowercase e’s and a’s seemed to really change, but a proper type application was achieved. Yes, it was about legibility, but that’s the context the project demanded. What happens when the project demands invisibility? Or confusion? Here, it’s legible speed. If science can perfect letters on road signs, one hopes it can devise the perfect skeleton for our eyes on speed readers like Spritz.

Finally, the concept of speed itself. The idea of a filter is unapologetically lost on Spritz, the idea that reality is composed of both truth and anti-truths. The philosophy behind Spritz seems to be saying, ‘Hey, garbage or gold, send it in as fast as you can, we’ll sort the sheep from the goats after the world blows up.’ Nevertheless, for a modern pedagogy that is inherently bulimic, perhaps Spritz is really just to help a new crop of students become expert test takers.

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Is it a game changer or a flop? We’re no seers (although our Billion Dollar Bracket we’re about to fill out should hopefully prove otherwise), but there has to be something here. Surely a branding boutique isn’t the first place to take notice. From our point of view, it’s more a question of ownership than tweaking — this isn’t the first serial reader, it’s just the first to align type according to an optimal recognition point. Samsung has it corraled for now, but a Google or a Facebook is probably chomping at the bit, ready to change it all yet again.

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