So I was going to do a second post on my review of the Wired app, but it didn’t jell. I kept wanting to write a post that reflected on the meta-context of information vs entertainment as a topic and didn’t just nitpick on the details of Wired.
You see, it wasn’t until I really looked at this app that I finally understood why I don’t read magazines. Like a lot of magazines, Wired don’t provide a news product in their monthly magazine. This is an entertainment product.
News sources are designed to get the content to you as fast as possible; that’s why they often have less fancy formatting, graphics, and other fooferaw. The Wired magazine, on the other hand, has a lot of fancy stuff wrapped around the articles; it’s part of the entertainment value. The fancy stuff, sidebars, cute little articles, animations, and embedded clips all add to the enjoyment of using the app. But they don’t provide a lot of information, do they?
Consider Zite (an iPad app which helps you find enjoyable content to read) and RSS feeds (where that content often comes from). The former is for entertainment and the latter is for information. A lot of the content will be the same, but the Zite app puts work into finding content for you and providing better formatting. This adds to the entertainment value of the app. On the other hand, the improved formatting also slows down how fast I can scan and pass on new content, which detracts from the information value.
Or you could consider the way a recipe is displayed in a cookbook vs in a home-making magazine. The recipe might be the same but the magazine will have more pictures, a more colorful description, and might even have a sidebar with a related tidbit of information.
Basically I think that when you increase the enjoyment factor, you also decrease the utility. So here’s my question: Do you think I’m right or wrong? I really would like to hear what you think. I consume so much content on a daily basis that I probably qualify as a statistical outlier. My experience might not match anyone else’s.
There’s an interesting corollary to my point above, and it has to do with the Wired website. Wired publish over 50 posts a week on their blog. You might think that the free web content undercuts the monthly magazine, but I don’t think it does. It lacks the formatting of the magazine, which means it’s not the same product.
It looks to me like Wired are making 2 different products each month (website and magazine). Am I wrong?
Let’s take my idea one step further. What if you took the design and layout of an entertainment product like Wired magazine and standardized it as a blog or website theme? You could then use the web content Wired put out each month and build an app around it. Wired would then have a third product to sell (or they could bundle it into their current app). This is content that they’re already paying for, so wouldn’t it be a great to find a new way to make a buck off it?
image by Tracy Hunter