True, really geeky, confession: I think I’ve underestimated Flipboard -- and this sad fact of my online life occurred to me even before this week’s news that the popular app, which curates one’s various and sundry feeds from Twitter, Facebook, and the gang into a glossy, virtual magazine, was now going to let its users publish their own magazines.
In short, while Flipboard used to, and will continue to, hunt-and-gather individualized magazines for its 50 million registered users, it will also let them publish their own Flipboard magazines on the topics of their choice to the people of their choice. Pick a topic, come up with a name, pick public or private distribution, and -- presto, change-o! -- an instant magazine!!!
But to get back to my confession, Flipboard was the very first app I downloaded when I got my iPad a few Christmases ago, but, as much as I oohed and aahed at the fact that such a thing of beauty could be made on the fly, I quickly moved on. Was it that I had other tools that do a reasonable, if unexciting, job of curating and could be accessed on my laptop? That using Flipboard also necessitated the not-very-technical problem of figuring out who had the iPad last and where they left it? Or that, as it is for many of us, I quickly developed a tech-rut, fighting the clutter of apps that quickly invaded my iPad by focusing on Gmail, Sudoku, Fruit Ninja and Spider Solitaire? (Second confession: Actually, Flipboard is also compatible with iPhones and Androids.)
Whatever the case, seeing its neglected icon on my iPad recently prompted me to try to incorporate it into my morning surf – that collection of sites and feeds that help ground me in the news of the day. After all, if I don’t know what content my Facebook friends are passing around, haven’t stopped by Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, and checked out The New York Times’ headlines, how can I continue with my day?
Or to put it another way: how many ways can I find to waste time before having to acknowledge the relentless drumbeat of work that punctuates my miserable existence?
But seriously, I’ve found Flipboard so immersive, and so much better than other curators at introducing me to great content, that I should really regard it as a night-time read. Time wasting during the workday is a time-honored tradition, of course, but there’s taking a break, and then there’s getting fired. One has to make a choice every now and then!
So, then, on Wednesday, when I started reading about Flipboard’s evolution into being not just a curator, but also a self-publishing tool, it again reminded me how much I’ve underestimated it. Since Flipboard’s launch in 2010, most of us have become obsessed with any number of social apps that are, frankly, less ambitious -- like Tumblr and Instagram -- even though Flipboard got the a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words thing early on.
True, a Flipboard magazine isn’t as nimble as a tweet, and it’s not a place where people go to create content; only aggregate it.
Another caveat is that only a single-digit percentage of those registered users visit it every day. That stat makes me wonder if I’m not the only one who has underestimated it.
However, now that Flipboard has created the ability for individuals to publish, it has upped its distribution in ways that we can only begin to comprehend. According to stats in the first 24 hours of Flipboard 2.0, 100,000 people have already published their own magazines. Sure, that probably represents plenty of fooling around, but that’s 100,000 magazines that didn’t exist at the beginning of this week.
Flipboard may have been around for a while, but it’s only starting to get interesting.