Are you a Flipboard user on your iPad or other tablet? Flipboard on this past Wednesday added the capability for individual users to make their own “magazines” which they can share with others. In other words, you can compile the magazine and others can subscribe and see it featured in their Flipboard. The magazine feature is first available on an updated iOS app, but promised for Android soon as well. (If you have created a magazine on iOS, it can be viewed on Android, but you can’t yet create a magazine or easily add content to an existing magazine.)
I figured the only way to take a look was to create my own magazine, so here is “HIT it!”: Check out HIT it! http://flip.it/lwD2z , a magazine compiling Health IT news and views. (This link will only work on a device with Flipboard installed.)
The product produced by these “magazines” looks just like other Flipboard pages, very clean and attractive. Since other users can subscribe to the magazines, this could serve the same sort of function as Twitter for the sharing and discovery of news, with the added bonus that there are no links to click through if you are interested in the story.
Right now the process is a little clunky if you don’t already have all your information sources and social network accounts in Flipboard.
A bookmarking applet for Safari on iOS is available now, although that won’t help you on your non-iOS devices or on your laptop. Installing the bookmarklet is the same process as followed by Instapaper: you create a bookmark and then manually edit it to insert the code to “flip” the page to your magazine. I had a little trouble making this work initially, but after a second install it seems to be working fine. (One tip: if you have Flipboard already opened, you won’t be prompted to login when you “flip” a page in Safari.)
You can also use Flipboard’s Search function to locate content, then select Flipboard from the results. When you do that, the search results will be presented in Flipboard format, complete with the magic + icon that is a one-step add to your magazine.
You are also allowed to add a comment to each of the stories you add to your magazine. If you click on an item in your magazine, you can do things like deleting the story, or even promote it to the cover.
I was interested to see how it would handle articles re-shared from aggregation sites, and it does a good job with that, noting the original share source in addition to the story itself. The danger, of course, is that instead of a carefully curated selection of articles, these magazines will just consist of re-shares of already aggregated articles, pointers to pointers to pointers… info-compost.
With the ease of adding articles, any self-publisher should keep in mind that they should curate: choose the best article on a topic, not ALL the articles… To avoid the totality of the magazines being recycled content, the most effective thing would be to provide the ability for some stand-alone articles to appear in the magazine. But you can work around this if you’re sharing your Google + or other social networking feeds — just “flip” your own posts to your magazine. And, of course, if you have a blog like this one, you can add blog posts through the bookmarklet process.
You will be glad to know that if you have your social network accounts in Flipboard, it is respectful of the privacy settings associated with posts, and you will get an error message (and the item will not be shared) if the original post was not Public.
It’s early yet, but does Flipboard’s Magazine feature pass the YA#$%?TTKTO Test ( yet another #$%?ing thing to keep track of)? If you’re a tablet user: there’s wonderful utility in having the “read it later” capability of Instapaper organized into a nicely formatted “magazine” others can subscribe to. Ditto if you’re used to sharing content via Twitter, since it saves readers the trouble of having to click a link to access content. The drawbacks primarily surround the lack of a solution for those who spend significant time on a laptop or desktop — you can’t read, bookmark, or create via Flipboard there.
Will I keep up with “publishing” my HIT it! magazine? Well, two days is a bit too soon for that verdict, but I can see that using it as a personal archive could be enough to keep me going for a while… Have you tried it yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts…