Enhanced Salsa

By • Mar 1st, 2010 • Category: 26th Story, Web/Tech

Have you seen this video yet? If you haven’t, click on over to Vimeo and watch (can’t embed, for good reason). If you have, I’m pretty sure you would click on over to watch it again, just for fun. I would. Heck, I will. Be right back.

Okay, so. Amazing, right? I was absolutely stunned when I watched that video the first time, and I didn’t even comprehend that it was a site takeover until I watched the entire page swirl back into the salsa jar at the end. I had to watch it again (and again, and again) to catch the genius animation that snuck onto the screen, from the vines that creep up from the bottom to the slicing up of the Vimeo logo when the girl steps out of the frame to dance around the background. It’s interesting how much I have to force my brain to see the subtle shifting of the video frame and background zoom-in, since it didn’t even register the first few times I watched. This was more than an advertisement…viewing this was an experience. And even though I don’t like tomatoes or site takeovers, dang it if I don’t want to crack open a jar of salsa right now.

But aside from making me really hungry, the video also made me think of how certain media is presented to allow for an experience, to make the technology behind it disappear. That oh-so-smooth transition from “video on a video hosting website” to “Salsa Show!” was clutch to making me view this as more than a 40-second clip about a vegetable I really couldn’t care less about and something I wanted to click away from. Movie theaters are certainly designed to be invisible, and I think physical books are as well, providing only the turn of a page as the sole interruption between the written word and the reader’s imagination. Even then, that interruption is the mark of a good book: a “page-turner.” With the boom of electronic reading devices, it’s important to keep this feature in mind; which device will allow you to have an experience with a book, to make you want that salsa and nothing else, and then give it to you?

In the ramp-up to the iPad announcement, the internet ate up every little rumor and spit out post upon post of speculation about the features, capabilities, and technical specifications of the mythical creature. Then both during and after the event, many found themselves underwhelmed by the lack of glitter (No flash! No camera! That name!). Adam Frucci over at Gizmodo listed 8+ things that suck about the iPad, considering the lack of multitasking to be “a backbreaker.” But Joanne McNeil argues for the lack of multitasking in both the iPad and other devices because it solidifies the reading experience. The New York Times’s David Carr, as well as Jon Gruber at Daring Fireball, also noted the iPhone and iPad’s ability to, as gadgets, disappear, leaving as little as a finger swipe (page turn) between the user and the content. Similarly, while the Kindle can’t do much else, it certainly lets you read. What others may consider faults in these devices, readers should appreciate as features for creating a reading experience.

Now, as for what content is necessary for an experience, I’m not sure. That’s a whole ‘nother ballpark, but I think Kassia Kroszer hits one over the fence with her “What Are Enhanced Ebooks?” post. Now that we have the technology that allows us to create such enhancements and focus on them when reading, we need to actually deliver good salsa.

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  • Peter_Meyers

    Delivering good salsa, indeed!

    Kathryn, I think you've hit on a slogan or a mission statement for 21st century digital books. That Vimeo video was mind-popping for me, too. And I’m with you: its greatest accomplishment is in how it entrances, capturing the viewer’s attention and getting you to forget for those 30 seconds or so that you’re looking at a web page — not to mention an ad. It succeeds in making the technology disappear….what Bezos said was his goal for the Kindle and yet where, for me, that device has fallen short. I mean every time I stare at that good-for-practically-nothing keyboard and all the space it occupies, I’m thinking: dudes! give me a bigger screen and get rid of that useless keyboard.

    Making technology disappear also feels like a big part of Apple’s success, in that their hardware and software generally get out of a user’s way and let us focus on enjoying or creating things. And with the iPhone and the iPad it feels like they’ve taken that almost as far as it’s materially possible: those devices are almost all screen and practically no buttons — the content dominates. As for the actual content that will deliver that kind of immersive experience when it comes to ebooks: there’s the $64 million challenge. I think Cathy’s Book (http://bit.ly/a2GKAA) is a start but there’s so much more to come.

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    Wow. That video was fantastic. Great post.

  • ksalisbury

    also check out this Google Chrome site takeover ad: http://www.youtube.com/googlechromethemes

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    my friend at goodby is one of the geniuses behind this ad- i was mesmerised when i saw it. i have to send her a link to your lovely write-up!

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