In pursuit of reaching a wider audience, the New York Public Library (NYPL) recently ran a project to adapt classic literature to Instagram’s small screen story format. The NYPL worked alongside design agencies to prepare easily digestible content. The text of each story was set at a legible size, but not so large that users would be required to click through too many screens. Designers made use of warm background colours to ensure that the text on each slide stood out from the background and animations were peppered throughout to constantly engage the reader's focus.
If NYPLC can successfully engage thousands of users by digitising Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, is there a similar opportunity for contracts to be animated in order to appeal to a wider readership?
The internet has revolutionised our ability to consume information and it is now common place that text will be combined with other forms of multimedia content. Yet, contracts remain predominantly black Arial or Times New Roman text on a white piece of paper. While there are of course issues to grapple - certainty of contract, multiple interpretations of visual diagrams, the extent to which the meaning of information expressed in audio, visual and text form may conflict - re-thinking current approaches to contracting could have some real, tangible, benefits to narrow the gap between contracts as a work of legal craftsmanship and contracts as an operational tool.
Animated contracts might be divided up into modules based on the subject matter of the content or the relevance of particular content to different target groups. Diagrams and interactive links could be easily embedded and helpful explanations for key terms and concepts included as appropriate. In the same way that we have seen newspaper publications adapt their content to an Instagram based audience, tailor-made legal content may be coming soon to a mobile device near you.