Digital storytelling at its best

The New York Times has just raised the bar, really high, for digital storytelling with the publishing of “Snow Fall: Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.” Beyond the fact that this is a beautiful experience, well written story and seamless integration of multiple technologies this story has far reaching implications. Here are the three that are most important:

1. Maturity of the web. This marks a clear step forward for the web owning its own identity. It emphatically says, “the web is MORE than just print digitized.”

2. Long form content can be successful. When you make great content, regardless of length, people will consume it. We’ve already seen this time and again with the popularity of TED talks. I’m looking at this as the first step to slowing our web consumption down.

3. A move away from CMS only. The only way this story can be created is by moving outside of the current CMS for the NYT. This is important because it’s marking an increasing understanding and willingness to create custom content and then create an experience appropriate for that content as opposed to the standard, “just fit into the CM” way it’s done now.

What makes this experience so great? It’s a well written, engaging story told in six parts that seamlessly integrates video, slide shows, functionality and motion graphics. None of it seems forced. Nothing feels like an afterthought. It all works together to create an immersive experience that gives the reader the ability to choose how surface or deep they want to go into the story.

Here are some screen grabs from the story.

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 10.46.03 AMOpening screen: A looped video of snow drifting over the mountain. The type is exposed above the fold to invite the reader to scroll down.

 

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 10.46.10 AMInline video: Hear the story in their own words or just keep reading it’s up to you. Either way, the video is integrated brilliantly into the text. I also like the person name being highlighted in the text as an additional cue that there is something interactive to experience.

 

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 10.46.25 AMMotion graphics: Here is the first use of motion graphics with a beautiful and smooth 3D fly through of the mountain range allowing the reading to get familiar with the ski resort and the back country where the avalanche happened.

 

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 10.47.10 AM

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 10.47.37 AMInline slideshows: Character development is important piece of any good story. Here, the use of slide shows is perfect to get a more intimate knowledge and connection with the main characters of the story. Again, the names in the text are highlighted as an additional cue that there is something interactive to experience.

And, that’s only on the first page of six!

For a deeper dive into the thinking behind getting something like this done and what it might mean for storytelling on the web, here is a great article/interview with the Graphics Director Steve Duenes and Deputy Director, Digital Design Andrew Kueneman from NYT on the Atlantic.

So, what does all this mean for creative firms like us? To me, it’s presents an exciting opportunity to tell stories and communicate ideas in engaging and powerful ways. It also means educating our clients on the benefits of creating stories like this. We started to do it with Access Effect stories but, as you can see, there is A LOT more that can be done!

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek – Multimedia Feature – NYTimes.com.

CSS Baseline: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly | Smashing Coding

Type on the web is evolving all the time. This article is another in the growing library of the possibilities to set type beautifully.

At the very least it’s worth the read from an awareness point of view.

CSS Baseline: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly | Smashing Coding.

If you’re feeling really geeky, check out this site that is adapting Bringhurst’s “Elements of Typographic Style” to the web. I found the part on kerning especially interesting. here is the link to the site The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web

The Web We Lost – Anil Dash

Great article highlighting some new ideas on how the web has changed with the introduction and scaling of social media networks.

The biggest idea, I think, is the lose of collaboration and openness. It’s as though we are witnessing an industry build it’s ivory tower and silos as they compete for ad revenue and control of our time and attention.

The second biggest idea is the willingness on our part to give away so much control of privacy and content. This also fueled by my first point, networks are making harder for us to share our content where we want to because that force them to play nice we each other.

It ends on high note though and call to remember/learn/teach the history of the web for newer generations of user who weren’t on the web when it was much more open.

The Web We Lost – Anil Dash.

Five Trends Driving Traditional Retail Towards Extinction – Forbes

These five trends highlight the steady march to a 100% complete digital life.

The one trend that really highlights just how completely digital our lives will be is the subscription purchases such as new razors that will auto purchase and ship at a set interval. No more stores at all.

At the very least, it would reduce C02 output because we are driving much less due to online purchasing.

Five Trends Driving Traditional Retail Towards Extinction – Forbes.

CHART OF THE DAY: e-Book Readers – Business Insider

Well, this is just depressing. I love my kindle and hate my iPad when it comes to straight up reading. The iPad is back lit and makes my eyes go batty, but, worse than that is the weight of it and the glare of the screen. Both make reading extremely uncomfortable.

I really hope these predictions are wrong…

CHART OF THE DAY: e-Book Readers – Business Insider.

Secrets from the Science of Persuasion

Need to persuade someone?

Seeing as how design is all about communicating new ideas to people, helping people see things in a new way and bringing new meaning to old things it seems any designer could benefit from knowing a little more about the art of persuasion.

Here are six ways to do it.

Secrets from the Science of Persuasion.

Water sculpture

Posted by on Dec 7, 2012 in Inspiration, The Little Things | No Comments

Beautiful photography of water. It’s amazing how much objects can change when looked at in unique ways.

Visit shinichimaruyama.com for more images.

See it in motion here:

Water sculpture.

Nude

Posted by on Dec 7, 2012 in Inspiration, The Little Things | No Comments

The human from, beautifully captured in motion. Visit shinichimaruyama.com for more images.

Nude.