One of the challenges I’ve set myself this year is to write some sort of book about Yahoo Pipes. Reading Presentation Zen three or four weeks ago, I started to imagine the form such a book might take. What I aspired to was something uncluttered, something that would contrast with the typical confusion of words and ideas that tend to end up being dumped into OUseful.info; something like an artistic recipe book, perhaps, or an art gallery catalogue; the form should be decomposable, allowing sections to be removed or updated without too many side effects on the rest of the work; and the authoring environment should complement the the publication environment, enforcing constraints of the medium the book would be published into.
In short, something like Powerpoint done well, but for print rather than screen.
It seems (of course!) that Tim O’Reilly had already executed a similar idea in the form of the Twitter Book, as John Naughton pointed out to me a couple of days later.
You can read more about O’Reilly’s take on the philosophy behind this sort of representation in Reinventing the Book in the Age of the Web.
Anyway, I spent a weekend doodling ideas, and then left it a couple of weeks. Now I’m looking at it again, and I’d appreciate your comments on whether this sort of presentation works for you, (and if not, why not?), how it might be improved, how it might be simplified (but remain accessible to a novice) and so on. The numbering scheme used is not related to pages – instead, each “point” I make has a number, and these are referred to from the index (I drew inspiration for this sort of numbering from The Pengin Cookery Book). Comments on the level at which the technical content is presented, and the way in which I have started trying to develop a narrative, will also be appreciated.
I originally thought that the “book” should be printed in an A4 landscape form, but then I started to wonder whether two landscape A4 pages could be combined into a portrait A4 page. The font size is problematic, and the I don’t think the same layout works for the landscape vs. portrait view, at least, not as it currently stands.
Anyway, here are the landscape and portrait versions. I don’t think they work as embedded content, which is a shame, but they weren’t written for that sort of medium, so it’s to be expected.
(If you are reading this in a feed reader, you will probably need to click through to the original post in order to see the embedded documents.)
Please bear in mind, too, that I’m not a designer (this much will be be obvious), but that I do think design could play a large part in making this approach usable.
Please feel free to add your comments below:-)