My Issue with Issuu
Issuu’s slick yet invariably muffled interface aims to mimic the printed page with ‘animated page flipping’ and rendering the shadowed contours of a flayed open book/magazine. Such dramatic flourishes beg the question: what the fuck?
In order to actually read the words, one needs to zoom in, an experience likely to induce vertigo spells. The lightest tap on your cursor will throw your eye over a vast terrain of ‘zoomed in’ space to another part of the book, abandoning it from the context usually established by peripheral vision. (Imagine having your nose to a page then getting hit in the head with a force going 20 miles per hour.)
Issuu’s navigational cursor, unlike the more intuitive ‘hand grab’ employed by Google maps and Adobe reader, is ‘involuntary’ in the sense that it’s summoned by a roll-over instead of the more controlled right-click (there is an option to ‘hand grab,’ though it’s difficult to get to without said vertigo). In order to hit any button, one’s cursor must dangerously traverse the space in between, invoking a reading (or lack of) experience which feels like inebriation.
Compare this to Googlebooks, which translates the qualities of printed matter without the eagerness to stun. I’m not trying to get all Amish on anyone — Googlebooks I can deal with. Google, in all its forms, is in essence very utilitarian, and thus of permanent nature.
The internet, while becoming ‘more easy,’ is inadvertently becoming more difficult at once. Designers and coders are a different breed; like YouTube and facebook, nobody trusts the full evocative qualities – made infinite by its very constraints – of the written word. The irony, I think, is that Issuu actually glorifies the printed page – as if the subordinance of publishing online is somehow elevated in its full mimicry of the printed page.
Many writers I respect have been published via Issuu, and this is no commentary on their work. I simply see a day when a new generation of click-happy readers glaze over word-faithful sites like elimae, bearparade, and McSweeneys – in need of something flash-ier (pun intended). The words should be still. The moving parts should be in your mind.
Television killed reading, and the internet just might kill it all over again.