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Can this app save the environment?

Al Gore's latest green endeavor is an iPad App called Our Choice which bills itself as an experience that will "change the way we read books." Naturally, bold claims coming from Al Gore make me skeptical, but this claim turned out to have promise. Our Choice let's you read, watch video, listen to interviews, explore photographs and interact with infographics. This is all done, of course, to get you to pick up the "save the planet" banner as we plunge into the next round of elections.

Sure the message Al shares in the book is nice and all, but the medium, is what really impressed me.

This app/book is very linear in it's structure, but that linear experience is enhanced with very well-placed and decidedly non-bookish interactive moments. Naturally, these enhancements make the book infinitely more engaging. I probably quadrupled my time spent on an infographic just because I could interact with it. All of these little touches scattered across the book kept me on my toes itching to find the next cool little multimedia discovery.

But before I get carried away praising Al Gore for this amazing new kind of book we should remember that he didn't invent the internet, and he didn't invent the interactive book either. In the realm of interactive books this one follows a new tradition in interactive reading. There's the artfully produced Alice in Wonderland which launched shortly after the first iPad came out. And of course the iPad versions of publications like Wired and Popular Mechanics have been peppering their content with great interactive modules for some time.

But to give Al some props, Our Choice might be the first interactive non-fiction book. And non-fiction seems to be a perfect fit for this highly engaging format. A piece of non-fiction like Our Choice aims to persuade, and by giving the reader more control over the content and making the message more entertaining and immersive that power of persuasion is amplified. Which is good because the Save-The-Planet message is getting a bit worn out. Sadly, this app will most likely not save the planet, but it can save an important message from going to stale to swallow which is promising. Thanks to Al Gore (and Push Pop Press) if you want to re-engage and re-energize your audience with a potentially worn out message, there is now an app for that.

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