The page is dead, long live the chunk

Don’t miss this awesome article in the HBR by mobile strategist Karen McGrane. (Found via a @stoweboyd tweet.) McGrane argues that the “page,” as a physical and conceptual vehicle for ideas, is a fossilized appendage without much meaningful function beyond print media. In short, having inhibited how media companies understood the desktop web, the page is destined to be skeuomorphic road kill on the smart phone and tablet. Looking at mobile devices, McGrane writes:

You don’t have to spend too much time thinking about all these new form factors and device types to realize that the very notion of a page doesn’t hold up. Content will “live” on many different screens and presentations. The amount and type of content that’s appropriate for a PC screen isn’t the same as what would work best on a smartphone or a smart TV. The way content gets laid out, styled, and presented must be different for different platforms.

The future of connected devices is content in “chunks,” not pages. Smaller, discrete content objects can be dynamically targeted to specific platforms and assembled into new containers on the fly. Which content and how much content appears on a given screen or interface will be defined by a set of rules, informed by metadata. Content will break free of the page and “live” in lots of different places.

We’re increasingly realizing that Pullquote, beyond being an efficient way to link directly to ideas rather than webpages, is a super-efficient format for consuming ideas on mobile. When you’re next on a smart phone or tablet, check out my personal feed of pullquotes to see how swiftly it filters and displays mobile-friendly thought-nuggets.

For another angle on McGrane’s chunk-centricity, this time from the perspective of the information consumer rather than the publisher, read my post Micro bookmarking: linking to ideas, not web pages written some months back.

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