Reading must occur everyday, but it is not just any daily reading that will do. The day’s reading must include at minimum a few lines whose principal intent is to be beautiful—words composed as much for the sake of their composition as for the meaning they convey.
When I first started blogging, I told myself it was ok to post half-formed thoughts; a blog was ephemeral, reactive—the medium cared not so much about completeness as about timeliness. I still believe that to be true, but with one important modification: it’s not that a blog post has permission to be rough so much as that roughness is its natural state. Meaning, blogging encourages exploration and experimentation. In this way, blogging is the kind of writing authors have done for centuries but which usually remained hidden away.
blogging encourages exploration and experimentation. In this way, blogging is the kind of writing authors have done for centuries but which usually remained hidden away. On the contrary, a book is the culmination of this writing: it’s what emerges after years of scratching around the same topic, when all the little pieces start to come together. Where the blog suggests paths, the book draws conclusions. Neither is superior to the other; rather, they represent different modes of writing—the first expansive, the latter convergent.
If the novel is the vinyl record, the anthology is the mixtape—it defies escape into any particular work in exchange for seeing the whole of something bigger. The meaning is in the collection—in the composition of distractions—not in any kind of singular reading experience.
Flipboard aggregates content from your social graph in really lovely ways, but the juxtaposition of oral culture in an essentially literate design doesn’t always make sense. It’s quite odd to see your friend’s tweet about their breakfast burrito elevated to a strikingly designed pull quote.
Here, also, is an image of a book that I would like to hold: that of a collection of readings that are loved, that are gathered up for reasons personal and so peculiar, that when joined become a book—not because of the paper or the binding or the barcode, but because of the pleasure they impart—because, for a time, in this one person’s mind, they belong together. Such a book need never be printed to exist. It need only be shared.
I start nearly every design project with words. Words define the problem and its scope, and they pave the way towards a solution. Names are especially important, as what you call things will prescribe how you approach them.
Now that content and presentation are separate, however, markup takes on another dimension: not instructions for style, but defining the underlying semantic meaning of the text, such that any number of visual styles can be intelligently devised. What does this mean in practice? It means instead of noting that a heading should be larger, you mark it as an <h2>—a second-level heading in the... article’s hierarchy. Instead of requesting that some text be indented, you mark it as a <blockquote>, indicating the text is an excerpt. And so on: in every case, you concern yourself with the meaning of the text, not how it looks.