Visual Tagging – the Next New Book Review?

The success of PostSecret suggests a new form of book marketing device – something I’ll refer to as visual tagging.  Visual tagging is the summarizing of a book’s content with a simple pictures and message vs. the more traditional book review. 

post card from a novel writerOne form of visual tagging would be a direct copy of the PostSecret idea.  Consumers would create a digital postcard about a book they had read and upload it to Amazon or other online booksellers.  The postcards would contain a simple image and message.  Readers could conventional read book reviews for a more in depth characterization of a book.  The postcard would provide a simple reader reaction with greater emotional impact.

Astrid KleinMark DythamThe concept for a second type of visual tagging was inspired by an article I read in the September 2007 issue of Wired.  The article was “Get to the PowerPoint” by Daniel Pink.  It featured a writeup on pecha kucha (a Japanese term for “chatter”).   We are all familiar with death by PowerPoint (one bullet at a time).  Pecha kucha aims to cure this by limiting PowerPoint presentation to 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide.  A total experience of just 6 minutes, 40 seconds.  The idea is to build compelling presentations around powerful images and simple messages.   The idea was conceived of by Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein – two architects practicing in Tokyo.  It has caught on.  There are now pecha kucha contests all over the world.  Pecha kucha has become a performance art form. Like haiku, it is creative expression constrained by a couple of simple rules.  Some examples of pecha kucha can be found at the Pecha Kucha Auckland & Wellington site.

So imagine having a book review presented in the pecha kucha format.  No wordy blather – just a concise, compelling summary – 20 slides, each accompanied by 20 seconds of narrative.  In fact, authors could use this as a budget concious substitute for a book video.   Would the idea catch on?  Would consumers really go to the trouble of creating visual tags.  My guess is probably, if the book was something they felt strongly about.  It could add a strong element of audience participation and sharing. 

cave painting LascauxThe concept of visual tagging is more ancient than writing.  Consider the cave paintings of Lascaux.   We don’t how many contributors there were or whether the paintings had religious significance or not.  But they were, at the very least, a shared commentary on the hunt and other important features of late stone age life. 

Visual tagging could even form the seed of a community.

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