Their complaint: it squeezes information into screen-sized “cards” and doesn’t allow scrolling through long documents. The academics agree: cards are too limited. Cards are lame.
1991. I am 12 years old. Unaware of the outcome of the conference, I use HyperCard on a Mac Plus to create my fifth grade final project: a report from the fictional expedition to the fictional planet called Thor IV. This interplanetary debriefing is a “stack” of cards, explanatory text juxtaposed with gray-dithered maps and sketches of alien life. You click shiny black buttons to advance from card to card.
Still 1991. Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web. His colleague Robert Cailliau is a HyperCard fan, and the web shows that influence—text, images, and buttons, all juxtaposed—but the web is made of pages, not cards, and if you need more than a screenful, you just scroll on.
2012. I am 32 years old. I use Xcode on a MacBook Air to create an iPhone app called “Fish.” I call it a “tap essay” because each tap on the iPhone’s screen reveals another card, and each card holds another sentence, or sometimes just another phrase, another beat. In essence, “Fish” is a HyperCard stack.
2013. We will start to make stacks in earnest again. We will develop a new grammar for this old format. We will talk about rhythm and reveals and tweetable cards. We will know how many cards an average person can tap through in one sitting. We will know when to use stacks…and when to just scroll on. Twenty-five years later, we will prove the hypertext researchers wrong: cards are pretty cool after all.
The Ensuing Discussion
(6 comments so far. Add your own?)
∞ Ron Martinez said:
Thank you. And yes.
May I point you (and not intending to promote, but because it is relevant): http://aerbook.com
Page = card. Set links between them (or external sources). Add media, text, interactivity. Publish to web, eBook formats, native app. We’re here on the San Francisco waterfront, overlooking al Qatras…
∞ Scott Rafer (@rafer) said:
This made me see Twitter Cards in a whole new way. I’m not sure that was your intent, but now I’m pretty damn excited.
∞ Chris said:
I started using HyperCard when I was around twelve. I loved it. HyperCard made it possible for me to create all the interactive things I wanted to create without having to learn a lot of software development. It’s partly because of HyperCard that I got interested in web design later on.
I really liked that card format. Apple did some beautiful things with it on the stacks they shipped with HyperCard. Cards weren’t scrollable, which made them inconvenient for certain things, but they were great for games or interfaces. Oddly, while HyperCard offered access to all the typical Mac UI widgets – radio buttons, checkboxes, etc – I don’t recall that you could actually create hyperlinks in text. Seems like a major omission, given the “hyper” part, but Apple might have wanted to steer people towards creating Mac-like interfaces instead of text-based ones.
I’ve seen various alternatives to HyperCard over the years, most notably something called “Runtime Revolution” which is sort of like a full software-development-oriented version of HyperCard. It’s still pretty complicated though. I’d love to see Apple offer something like HyperCard again as a way to get kids and non-programmers interested in creating interactive programs.
∞ Mickey said:
Great article! You may enjoy this stack from our early work… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5-T_S50Sr4&sns=em
∞ Guy Dickinson said:
Why do I love this idea so much, and yet _hate_ the almost identical ‘grammar’ when it’s applied to eLearning ‘modules’ and PowerPoint?
Is PowerPoint/Keynote in the hands of an artist, played back on a phone in your hand that much different to the Cards described above?
Is the novelty of a new format what’s so beguiling?
David Byrne made PowerPoint lovely, while corporate writing can make a beautiful typeface ugly…maybe the grammar of cards is the bigger story here?
∞ Max Johns said:
I’m not sold on the idea that “it’s not like PowerPoint because Apple invented it”. I’m also yet to see the value and beauty in adding clicks just to finish displaying a page’s content.
But I’m sure that there will be some wonderful work done that proves me wrong on that second one. My main worry is the amount of bad stuff that the good stuff will be buried in between.