Craig Mod on the Digital and the Physical

Craig Mod, who has written some very insightful things about the future of books, has put up a new essay on the importance of edges to our sense of the scale of the act of creation.

Mod is one of the creators of Flipboard for the iPhone. He turned the digital record behind the first release of this app — git commit messages, design mockups, launch party photos — into a physical book, giving the intangible bits that form the trail of modern creative efforts tangible form.

This is a way to combat what Mod calls the “feeling of thinness” in modern digital life:

Put in more concrete terms: a folder with one item looks just like a folder with a billion items. Feels just like a folder with a billion items. And even then, when open, with most of our current interfaces, we see at best only a screenful of information, a handful of items at a time.

The whole essay is chock full of great insights like this. I’m particularly enamored of this bit, on the ways that the digital creative process will give us new ways to appreciate art as a performance:

Perhaps the next Carver’s manuscript will contain the entire typing history of the document including GPS data of where he was when he wrote it. We will be able to replay the entire composition process. Shadow, if you so desire, a particular Hemingway through a certain Spain as he writes a new The Sun Also Rises.

Now that’s an truly SFnal idea. I love it.

Do give the essay a read. You’ll thank me.