The Mario Blog
06.16.2009—6am
From the Daily Me to the Daily Perfect

TAKEAWAY: Can anyone create the perfect newspaper? It has been tried for years, usually under the project title: the newspaper of the future. Now, a website goes for the ultimate customized newspaper, yes, yours. Give it a try. To me, the “daily perfect” is more than a customized version of what interests me. Indeed, daily perfect to me is a combination of serendipitous encounters with depth and analysis of what I already know.

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Get your own “perfect newspaper” customized for you here.

TAKEAWAY: Can anyone create the perfect newspaper? It has been tried for years, usually under the project title: the newspaper of the future. Now, a website goes for the ultimate customized newspaper, yes, yours. Give it a try. To me, the “daily perfect” is more than a customized version of what interests me. Indeed, daily perfect to me is a combination of serendipitous encounters with depth and analysis of what I already know.

The notion of a perfect personal and customized newspaper is one of those concepts that has been around for a long time—-sort of like finding remedies to restore hair loss, or aphrodisiacs to rev up the libido. You get the idea: that dangling carrot up there that you want to reach and bite into it.

The customized newspaper is another such wish. For years, I have sat through seminars in various countries where a speaker would come in and talk about the ultimate perfect newspaper—-that one newspaper that tells you ONLY about topics that are of interest to you.

About 12 years ago, I was involved in one such project for a client specializing in the making of printers. Their idea (and I will not name the very large company) was that you would customize contents in your computer, then get up in the morning and, before your first cup of coffee, you would press a button and print The John Gazette or The Vivian Telegraph, and, presto, the happy printer will make you happy with news that you had selected.

Of course, this project did not go very far, although the exercise was interesting.

A note of interest: Part of the reason that the makers of the famous printers decided to get out of the customized newspaper business—-before they even entered it—- is that their research shows what we suspected: People print things from their computers to read later, but the printed pages pile up and never get read. I know we are all guilty of this. For those in the personal printer business this was bad news, indeed. At the end, this knowledge is what killed the “printer turns publisher” project.

Serendipity is a news determinant

Part of the reason that these projects fail is for the same reason that newspapers traditionally have won our hearts: serendipity.

Reading a newspaper is akin to visiting the large supermarket. You go there to get apples, granola and yoghurt, but you are seduced by the pineapple on Aisle 9, the box of raisins on Aisle 14, not to mention that copy of People Magazine with the latest on Jen and Brad, so you go home with two bags.

Same happens with the newspaper. The general newspaper that is good thrives on tons of serendipity, which is part of the excitement of the daily ritual of reading a newspaper.

Now: the Daily Perfect

Today I registered for my own edition of Daily Perfect, an interesting website that allows you to build the “perfect” newspaper, based on a profile that is built around topics that you like. I am now registered, so I know I will be able to get all types of news on jazz, architecture, American politics and even visual journalism.

In the era of the Daily Me, it was only a matter of time before we had Daily Perfect.

I repeat: part of what makes my own daily me perfect is serendipity, the surprise around the corner that I have no clue will come my way.

What is ironic, however, as we work daily with traditional newspapers that are trying to reinvent themselves for survival in a multiplatform world is that it is more difficult to provide serendipity.
For the printed newspaper, it is a matter of finding and displaying serendipitous encounters for the readers, while becoming a source of specialized topics that readers know they can come to repeatedly.
Yes, the newspaper of today and tomorrow offers the surprises of magazines, with the depth and authority of books. Somewhere in between lies what I would call the new definition of NEWS for the printed newspaper.

To me, that would be the Daily Perfect.

TheMarioBlog: celebrating one year

Reed Reibstein, the Yale University student whom we are proud to have as our summer intern, sends us this thoughtful message as we celebrate the first year of TheMarioBlog:

I am writing to congratulate you on one year of TheMarioBlog! I have to be honest: I do not know of any blog, definitely no graphic design or journalism blog, that is updated as frequently yet consistently has such lengthy and interesting posts. I check your blog first thing when I get up every morning and have never missed a post—and I am sure that there are many others who have the same morning ritual. I consider myself privileged to have been a small part of your posts over the last year.

As you requested online, I thought I would take this opportunity to mention some aspects of TheMarioBlog that I really love and would like to see more of and a couple of features that you might be able to be enhance.

The things he likes about the blog

My favorite posts are, without question, those that give the inside scoop on your redesigns and design developments and your personal opinions about new work in the industry. I enjoy reading about your recent newspaper and magazine projects, especially those in which you provide lots of details. I especially like when you spread the information out over several days, e.g. one day on the overall design, the next on the type, the next on the color palette, etc. One thing that I particularly appreciate is your reluctance to be overly critical or make negative assumptions about redesigns that you find uninspiring. I and your other readers thank you for striving to keep the conversation constructive and professional.

The other features I look for are your short interviews and links to online stories. I like that you interview a wide range of people, but keep the discussion short and focused. And those lists of links: Even though some people may get their journalism news from dedicated sites and blogs, I typically do not, so I enjoy when you post links to five or ten interesting articles from around the Web.

Some useful tips to follow

I very much appreciate that you provide a “takeaway” for each and every blog post to make it easier for your readers. But I find that I usually go to the home page and click right through to the blog post of the day without reading the takeaway first. Do you think it would be helpful to copy the takeaway at the beginning of each blog post, too?

You often use small graphics as headers for the most important items in your blog posts, which I love because they make your blog feel much more vibrant than if you only used the basic formatting of the Web. I have to say, though, that at the size I see these graphics on my screen, the Didot that you use can be rather hard to read. (For example, in the text “Here are links to your favorite postings of the last 12 months” from the current blog post, the hairlines are so light that they almost disappear.) Might you consider switching to another typeface that would be easier to read? I was thinking that Whitney might be a terrific fit—it looks great as the Tweets by Design background on your Twitter page, and it would be nice to see something by Hoefler & Frere-Jones since you work with them so often. Also, I noticed that some of the header graphics end up with a red wavy line under words that are not in your spell check’s dictionary. I do not know which program you make the graphics in, but you may be able to turn off the “Correct for spelling while I type” feature in the options menu, which I think would make everything look nicer.

Congratulations again on a fantastic year of blogging. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for your readers in the next twelve months!

TAKEAWAY: Can anyone create the perfect newspaper? It has been tried for years, usually under the project title: the newspaper of the future. Now, a website goes for the ultimate customized newspaper, yes, yours. Give it a try.

http://www.dailyperfect.com/news/

Follow the Marios

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Two Marios. Two Views.
Follow Mario Jr. and his blog about media analysis, web design and assorted topics related to the current state of our industry.
http://garciainteractive.com/
Visit Mario Sr. daily here, or through TweetsByDesign (www.twitter.com/tweetsbydesign)

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To read TheRodrigoFino blog, in Spanish, go:
http://garciamedia.com/latinamerica/blog/

TheMarioBlog posting # 281

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