I've been messing around a bit with Tapestry lately. If you're not familiar, Tapestry is an online/mobile...media generation thing? Storytelling tool? Essentially, these stories are built on the site and then viewable on mobile devices, they're largely text-based, and they require you to physically tap in order to move the story forward. Also, importantly, you cannot move backwards.

For the builder, the usage is somewhat comparable to a Powerpoint, but more of a pain in the ass; for the user, a Powerpoint is also somewhat analogous, I guess. As of right now you can't change fonts, manually change text size (although you can play with the CSS), or move images around. There are workarounds in which you can basically create a bunch of image files of the stuff you want to show and then upload them, but, as you might imagine, it's not super convenient.

So I guess the question is: why bother? (I'm not going to pretend I haven't asked myself this.)

The difference, to reiterate, has to do with the fact that you can't move backwards. At all. Ever. Which forcibly slows you down and requires you to contemplate and assess what you're reading and seeing: do I understand this? Is it worth remembering?

I like this. I spend a lot of time thinking about the impact of technology on my thought and emotion processes. I also spend a lot of time thinking about how I can more deeply experience joyful things that are otherwise ephemeral - a song, for instance, lasts until you stop singing it, unless you sing it with other people, or you perform it, or you write it and rewrite it and/or use it in some kind of art, all of which give you the opportunity to live inside it a little while longer. (In case you were wondering: yes, the margins of my high school notebooks were filled with Dave Matthews Band lyrics.)

So the idea of being forcibly slowed, asked to inhabit information, appeals to me. However, in order for something like Tapestry to work, it has to either target people who are already open to this possibility or be engaging enough/offer a strong enough value proposition that consumers will come to it anyway even though it interferes with their previously established thought processes. Right now, I don't think there's enough content on the site to do the latter, and I don't think it can survive on the former option alone. However, I hope it keeps going.

I'm still not sure how to best use this, personally. I'm playing with a few ideas, and as soon as I have something shareable, I will do that. But I like its existence.

(For more on the purpose of Tapestry, as articulated by its founder, I recommend the story Fish.)

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