While content is – and will always be – king, presentation continues to play a key role. It’s the part that catches the reader’s eye and leads him to the words. As a result, many a blogger has spent a lot of time and effort not only dressing their blog site, but also insuring their content is well-formatted to make a good first impression.
Here you see a screenshot of the Gazette showing a recent article that includes some complex formatting. The image includes a caption and the tweets are not screenshots, but actually embedded in the content. As a result, the retweet, reply and other components are all functional elements.
While an RSS feed will deliver all the content to your news reader of choice, that does not include the custom styling found at the original site. As you can see in this example, the image’s caption looks just like the rest of the text and the tweets, well . . .
Here’s how Flipboard for the iPad presents the same article. First, Flipboard provides its own styling to the article to fit in with the other collected content and present it all in a magazine-style format. Notice that just below that is the view of that content as displayed here at the Gazette. Without leaving Flipboard, I can read any collected article just as it is presented at it’s source location. Now I have the best of both worlds – my news sources delivered to my device styled for easy browsing yet still providing all the styling the author worked hard to create.
I can still process a large amount of content quickly, yet enjoy those special articles even more since I’m once again seeing them at their best. Now you see why I’m such a Flipboard fan. And, now that Flipboard has been ported to the Android platform too, even more people can enjoy the experience. I have it on my Android phone and it’s also an amazing small-screen experience.
Presentation isn’t the only thing that makes Flipboard so special. It’s distribution options are absolutely amazing.
When you first open the app, you’re asked to create a Flipboard account and then connect to the social networks you want to monitor using Flipboard. If you have Flipboard on multiple devices – your tablet and phone for example – you can use that same Flipboard account on each to insure your content stays synched. Notice here that I’ve connected to my Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader and Flickr accounts. There are a number of other networks that I can also include if I wish. You’ll also notice there are a number of categories listed to the left. These will connect you to a growing number of curated sources managed by Flipboard. Several have worked with the Flipboard staff to format their source content especially for presentation via the app. The National Geographic “channel” pulls photos and articles from their many publications and, as you would expect, the photographs are stunning. Keep an eye on the Inside Flipboard section to keep up with new content sources and features.
As you add content channels, they will appear on the app’s opening screen. Tap on any image to be taken to that section. The Cover Stories icon is always on the front page and its content is dynamically generated from across all your selected channels. It’s not all the content, but more like a spotlight. At the bottom of the screen you’ll notice several small icons. Tap the spinner icon on the left to force a refresh of the content across all your channels. Tap the gear icon on the right to update the app settings.
As you add source channels to your Flipboard, you’ll quickly out-grow the space on your home screen. As you can see here, I have another page of channels. A quick swipe takes me to them.
Although I’m still including Google Reader as a content source, it probably won’t last much longer. Why? As you’ll soon see, the other channel source options offer a much richer presentation and I am finding them a much more enjoyable reading experience than the RSS content delivered by Google Reader. Now that Flipboard is available on more devices, I’m not as dependent on Google Reader to keep up with news “as it happens”.
So, which sources provide this richer experience? One of the best is Twitter. When photos are included in a tweet, Flipboard pulls them in. When the tweet includes a link, Flipboard follows that link and pulls both the content and the site to your reader. If you look at the content channels presented by Flipboard, you’ll notice they are all distributed via Twitter as links in a tweet.
As you can see here, there are a number of ways to customize your Flipboard content using Twitter. One of the best ways is by taking advantage of Twitter’s list feature. Display this option panel by tapping on the down icon next to the Your Tweets title at the top of the screen. Once you’ve chosen a saved search or list option, Flipboard will re-drawn the screen to view just that content. To keep it as a new permanent channel, tap the Add button – also at the top of the screen. If you don’t add it, this collection will only be available for this session. As soon as you move to a different channel, this one will revert to its default settings.
These options are available for your other social channels too. In the Google Reader channel, you can look at just the starred items or the feeds assigned to a particular folder. Flickr’s channel includes the groups you belong to and contacts you’ve made at the site. Other channels offer their own options.
With Flipboard, I can create a customized news magazine that not only efficiently delivers content from any number of sources, but also presents it in a beautiful package. With it, I can enjoy not only the writing efforts of my favorite bloggers, but also the entire site experience they spent so much time crafting.
There’s a lot more to learn about Flipboard and future posts will discuss them. In the meantime, check out A Genealogy Reading List to learn about the @genBUZZ Twitter account which I’m building as a resource for the genealogy community.