“reading” doesn’t cut it anymore

Created by Ben De Rienzo
March 19, 2013

It’s been an eventful year, with our first venture into designing a mobile application. It probably would have been smart to just pick some garbage-tech idea to cut our teeth on, like a silly, stress-relieving time-waster app or an ultra-simple utility. Instead, Bamboo decided to go after something disruptive by re-imagining (buzzword alert!) the reading experience on mobile devices. [Shaking my head…]

There are myriad topics I could write about the experience, such as struggles of startup ventures, ui/ux techniques, bootstrapping and angel investing, but I’ll step way back on my first post on this topic. It actually goes back to one of my biggest pet peeves with this whole process.

Since we started down this road a year ago, I’ve never been satisfied with answering the most basic of questions about what we’re doing.

“So, what is Snippet?”

You’re supposed to be able to nail this question in as few words as possible. Well, Snippet…It’s a beautiful, short, reading experience.

But, that doesn’t really do it justice. The problem is, we do not have a sufficient word for it. We’ve grown up with books since we were young, and reading was something our parents prayed that we would fall in love with. But, with the rise of digital communication via the Internet and mobile technology, we really don’t just “read” anymore. We devour a multitude of imagery—both still and moving—as we digest words, as well as listen to audio podcasts and Youtube videos. Since we want to incorporate the best of all of these media sources in Snippet, and add social to the mix, it’s really hard to use the term “reading experience” to capture the idea.

Maybe I could put it like this:

Imagine a brand new concept restaurant opens in a popular Midtown location—immaculately designed inside and out, exhibiting detailed craftsmanship from the door handles to the salvaged tile in the washrooms. The coordinated staff descend upon the tables like a choreographed parade, each with the most affable, welcoming, informative tone. As course after course of delicious appetizers and entrées hit the tables, the patrons are stunned by an extravagant variety of entertaining acts, from Cirque-like leapers and acrobats, to choreographed dancers jiving and sashaying along to live big-band musicians. Dessert delivery cues a change of pace: lighting and ambience shifts, and customers are treated to angelic singers crooning slower numbers till the entertainment closes with a cast reveal and loud applause. Over-satisfied, buzzing people flutter out onto the streets to hail their cars from attentive valet ushers. In total, the night is a variety show of excellent artistry to go along with an excellent meal.

The restaurant owner greets customers as they walk out the door, and he overhears a man on his cellphone:

“Yes, I’ll be there in about 20 minutes. What? Oh, no, I just had dinner.”

I wonder what the owner’s reaction would be to that statement. Even if he didn’t say anything out loud, I’m sure inside he would be screaming, “Excuse me, sir—but that was WAY MORE THAN JUST DINNER!”

Almost a year later, and I still don’t have the words to describe exactly what we’re doing in a few words. I just know that “reading” doesn’t cut it.

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