The next killer app (you read it hear first)

Here’s an email i sent to Medium.com, an on-line magazine that is setting a standard in clean, quality on-line reading. I hope they pick up on it and kick off a viral trend for screen display of text.

Hi Medium.com,
Well done on your site — it’s great in terms of content, appearance and functionality. I appreciate your attention to detail. I just read Marcin Wichary’s piece Crafting Link Underlines on Medium, and something occurred to me that has bugged me for years, which you folks might be perfectly placed to address.

When reading a paper book, when you finish a page and jump to the next one, your eye immediately knows exactly where to go to continue reading — the start of the first line of text. This precision is lost on screen reading. When you hit Page Down (or spacebar), the screen pages down but the eye has to hunt around to find where the text continues.

Reading paragraph by paragraph can help, in that it is considerably quicker to find the start of the next paragraph than a next line buried inside a paragraph. But this doesn’t work when a long paragraph trails off the bottom of the screen.

Sometimes, i just keep scrolling with the down-arrow, keeping the paragraph i’m currently reading at the top of the screen. But that doesn’t seem efficient either.

I wonder if you ingenious folks can invent some way to make that page-shift eye-transfer as obvious as it is with paper books. Maybe a small flag in the margin near the screen bottom: you read down to that flag, hit page-down, and the flag jumps to indicate the next line … something like that. Or a virtual page-based display, where the text is chopped up on the fly to behave like a paper-based book. I know that sounds retrogressive, but i do a lot of screen reading and that indeterminate eye-jump is always a minor irritant.

Okay, good night, and keep up the good work!

~greg
specificINK, Tofino BC

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