Designer and editor Liz Danzico argues, in relation to the vast store of material on the web that we navigate through, that “now we’re all ‘editors’”. “Where once editors and curators provided meaning”, Danzico writes, “now we’re providing it.” The tasks of selecting material, setting the pace of how it was experienced, and giving a logical form to it, these are jobs that we as consumers are now having to do. We all have to make coherence for ourselves and as we walk around the web we inevitably do that for others, even if those others are just the four cat-loving friends we email LOLcat links to. What’s interesting is when these impulses get chanelled into something that’s more explicitly for a wider circle. I’m thinking of blogs like My Parents Were Awesome, with its simple and sweet idea of simply showing photos of our parents’ younger selves.
Sometimes the editorial intervention is a little bit stronger, and what results is an experience that’s a bit more contained and directed. I’ve mentioned before how the themed issues of JPG Magazine provide a nice sense of coherence amid the diversity of the collected photographs from a large number of contributors. Pictory (which I ran into via Kottke.org) is a collection of images based on general submissions around a theme. Put together by editor and designer Laura Bruno Miner (who, it turns out, was the design director of JPG), the things that make Pictory exceptional are the quality photographs that she chooses, the thought that she puts into arranging and ordering the photographs, and the extended captions. Each contributor has an individual photograph, and the accompanying words contextualize the images well. They become stories, not just a collection of nice images.
The web enables this more singular control over the process, I suppose, and Miner has created a place for this presentation of work to exist organically on the screen, with a simple navigational structure and plenty of space for the photos themselves. The latest ‘London’ series, for example, takes us from the Tube to Buckingham Palace, to less familiar views, tea and sandwiches, a post-protest crowd, Camden Markets. The diversity of photographs makes for a diversity of views, but the editing gives it a good unity.
Will the iPad encourage more innovative ways of using pictures on the web? The Guardian’s upcoming app looks promising, but it seems to me the barriers to entry are higher in that arena. Pictory is a great example of what’s already possible for an individual with a defined editorial sensibility to do in a maturing and accesible web.