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Monkey Mag-ic

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If you’ve been using the Internet at all in the last couple of years there’s a good chance you’ve come across the phrase Web 2.0. Like so many buzz words it’s a fairly meaningless phrase to a lot of people – but essentially refers to web technology that operates in an interactive and user driven manner, in a way that differentiates itself from older web technologies – sites such Flikr and Wikipedia would be classed as Web 2.0, while TrustedReviews would be Web 1.0 type of site.

Recently I stumbled upon an actual online magazine that would fit the Web 2.0 nonclamature. a new free weekly online only magazine called Monkeymag, from UK Publisher Dennis (Warning! Mature Content! Not Family friendly).

Now it’s not actually the magazine itself that's interesting. In fact, in terms of content it’s nothing more than an online version of Nuts and Zoo, so if your opinion of those titles is that they are nothing more than cheap and tacky rags that pander to the lowest common denominator through blatant titillation, then you won’t approve of Monkeymag either. Of course, if you’re a fan, you’ll love it.

No, what’s interesting about MonkeyMag is the technology it’s based on from Ceros. This is essentially like a PDF reader on steroids.

Not only do the pages look like actual magazine pages, but they actually feel like real magazine pages. The main trick is that it lets you turn the virtual pages over. When I read about this I was intrigued and when I tried it I couldn’t help but be impressed. You can grab the corner of the pages by holding and clicking with your mouse and as you drag, you get this cool page turning effect. It’s good fun and really does feel like flicking the pages of a magazine, with the page even hanging down if you let it.
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As soon as I tried it I felt that this was the missing link between reading standard web pages and digital E-paper. Remember that scene in Minority Report when Tom Cruise’s character runs onto the train as he’s being chased by the police. Everyone is reading newspapers, but, Harry Potter-like, the text and images on the papers updates in real-time with his image as a wanted suspect. (I imagine that this could be quite annoying if you’re reading an article and it changes mid-way, but we’ll deal with that in the full review - check back in ten years)

Well, we might not be quite there yet but Ceros technology is the closest thing I’ve seen. Of course, magazines have always attempted to bridge the gap between print and digital. In the early Nineties this was done mainly by simply cover mounts of CDs and later DVDs, and later magazines began to create digital versions of themselves online. However, in the main these were, and in many cases still are, half hearted and largely unsuccessful affairs, probably because they were done by traditional print publishers who had no idea what to do to make a publication really work online.

That’s why Monkeymag is so interesting. It’s created by traditional publishing house Dennis, owners of PC Pro and Maxim (easily muddled up those two). However, MonkeyMag exists exclusively online and by using Ceros it is able to take full advantage of everything the web brings.

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