The Nobel-prize-winning former vice president has redefined the digital book. He and Push Pop Press have put out what is easily the best interactive e-book on climate solutions — an iPhone and iPad app of his best-seller Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.
I was able to interview Gore yesterday and will report on what he said over the course of three posts — one on this App, one on solutions, and one on his current thinking about climate action and messaging. Climate hawks will be happy to know that he is as committed to delivering the science and solution message as ever.
When I reviewed Our Choice in November 2009, I called it “The must-read solutions book,” and said: Besides being informative, Our Choice is a truly beautiful book page after page, and I highly recommend it, particularly for those who want a broad overview of the key strategies for preserving a livable climate.
In interactive App form, Our Choice is as superior to the original book as an iPhone was to the previous generation of cell phones. I would say this App is reason enough to get an iPad, since the tiny iPhone screen simply doesn’t do justice to the spectacular graphics, interactive charts, and stunning videos.
If you want to become knowledgeable on the full range of climate solutions from efficiency to biochar — or you know someone who does — then this is the digital book for you. This would be a terrific educational tool for a student of almost any age.
The best interactive overview of this App is on Push Pop’s website. Here is a video overview:
I asked Gore why he did this App. He replied:
I think the medium is so immersive and engaging and allows people to explore the interactive infographics, the animations, also the text and pictures, to find out where they are on the map.
One really nice feature of this book, especially for younger readers, is that there are 250 full-screen images that have globe icon you can touch to instantly reveal where on the globe this image is from.
I just think it’s a powerful way to communicate. I learned in publishing An Inconvenient Truth, both as a book and a movie, that a multiplatform approach creates a synergy that supports both platforms. In this case, the book and the App support one another.
Needless to say, Gore is a tech geek. He is on the Board of Directors of Apple.
It must always be pointed out before the disinformers rush in that all of his profits on this App will be donated to the Alliance for Climate Protection.
But there is so much new material in the App just in the year and a half since the book came out. There’s been so much new material, for example Fukushima is in the nuclear chapter and a lot of other examples.
Let me focus on one illustrative example. In Chapter One, in the printed book there was a sidebar about the Great Smog of 1952 in London illustrated by a compelling picture of that event [p. 41]. In the App, you have the same text in the same sidebar, but instead of a picture, you tap on that square there and what you get is the original BBC footage about the Great Smog of 1952, with video coverage of what it was really like to be there.
That illustrates for me one of the extra dimensions that the App experience brings over what a book can provide.
I mentioned that I was impressed with the video of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and Gore pointed out that there is “more than an hour of documentary footage embedded throughout the App.”
No blog post can possibly do justice to an interactive digital book as spectacular as this.
I can report that my 4-year-old daughter was enraptured by the concentrated solar thermal power video and made me play it 8 times in a row. And once I showed her the page in the chapter on wind power where you can blow into the iPad microphone and spin the wind turbine to power a house and charge up a battery, she wouldn’t stop playing with that. Last night I downloaded a couple of top educational Apps for pre-schoolers for a train trip she’s taking today — and she still prefers watching the concentrated solar and other videos, and powering the wind turbine.
The App is $4.99 and can be purchased on iTunes.