On Tuesday TEDsters were treated to a charming demo of a new book made for the iPad and iPhone by wunderkind ex-Apple designer Mike Matas, a co-production of his new company Push Pop Press and publisher Melcher Media. As you flip through the virtual pages of Our Choice, Al Gore's new follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth, you can zoom in on every photo, play video and sonorous voice-overs by the former Veep himself, interact with every infographic.
Matas stopped the show when he gently blew on the tablet's mic, and on its screen, the blades of a wind turbine turned, with electricity moving to a house and then into a storage battery. Stop blowing, the blades slow down, and the flow of power reverses. This works on the iPhone too.
With its combination of information density, deadly serious subject, and ubiquitous interactivity, Our Choice, in this 5-minute demo, anyway, resembles nothing so much as a really, really cool textbook. Push Pop Press plans to make its tools available to more traditional publishers with easy-to-use interfaces. It may take a different kind of talent to make these tools truly sing as the future of storytelling.
Of course, Push Pop Press isn't the only company pushing this frontier. Recently at a dinner party I got a peek at Operation Ajax, a graphic novel for the iPad that tells the true story of the 1953 Iranian Coup.
Not only is it fully interactive (open up dossiers, look at videos and real life source materials) it's also visually stunning and narratively complex. It'll be exciting to see what a new generation of authors who have grown up with these kinds of tools can come up with.
[Image: TED Conference on Flickr]