asap’s Patriot(ic) Act
If you can’t make it to any fireworks this evening — or you’re weary of the whole picnic-basket-and-battle-the-traffic thing–click over to asap, the Associated Press’s extraordinarily good site targeting what they hope will be the next generation of news consumers.
The site’s Firefox-friendly fireworks show demonstrates just a few things asap, now about 18 months old, does so well:
Matches the medium with the message. Note that while the presentation is technically a video, the user experiences it as a slide show set to music.
Takes wise advantage of “regular” AP’s first-class assets, in this case several dozen smart, remarkable photos of fireworks taken all over the world. There is not a visual cliche in the bunch. Brilliant photo editing here.
Declines to pander. Lesser minds would have set the slide show to a musical backdrop of Death Cab for Cutie or John Mayer–you know, “kids’ music.” Here the soundtrack is a vintage vinyl recording of (what I assume to be) a mid-century orchestra performance of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” providing a slight wink of irony underneath it all.
Exudes contrary but not hostile energy. The (brief) text is devoted to fireworks as they are done around the world–Italy, France, Japan and China, not the U.S. The main story source is not, refreshingly, a member of the chronically overexposed Grucci family. Interviewing the Gruccis for July 4 stories is as hackneyed as interviewing that idiot in the hat on Ground Hog Day.
Three audio clips extend the surprisingly insightful interview, but like most “on-screen” audio they present a lousy user experience. (Show of hands: Has anybody ever listened to an audio clip without clicking away to do something else while it plays? Anyone?)
There is much more to say about asap, most of it good. I’ll get to that later. Meantime, enjoy the show.