Picturebook Lessons: The Art of Letting Readers Fill In the Blanks
March 8, 2012 | 9:13 am
By Paul Biba
That’s the title of an article by Peter Meyers on his blog A New Kind of Book.
The iPad can display almost anything an author imagines. But are we shortchanging readers by overstuffing our apps?
Isn’t it ironic how a device whose design embodies minimalism often gets used to show off overwhelming amounts of media?
Recently I’ve begun looking for what might be called minimalist apps—those whose contents match the iPad’s spare design. My search gained new impetus thanks to Children’s Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling, which studies an art form that, like the iPad, has attracted creators interested in mixing media. One of the points that struck me in this wonderful study is how some of the best artists exercise a design restraint, leaving out more than they include. Often this is done because of their audience—young kids not yet equipped to process lots of info at once. This condition—this input sensitivity—struck a chord: it reminded me of my own current battle with Info Overload and how frequently I feel mentally skittish, unable to focus, overwhelmed.
The benefits for app designers who exercise simliar restraint could be more than simply soothing mentally addled minds. There might be cognitive and pedagogical advantages—namely, by resisting the impulse to spoon feed viewers ready-made multimedia (tap here for alternate views of Harry’s march up the quidditch field), our apps might spur readers to construct their own memory-friendly mental models. Perhaps “show, don’t tell” needs updating for the iPad Age: Show less, learn more.”
(Via A New Kind of Book.)