Printmakers’ Periodic Table

I think I ran across this on fadetheory some time ago and have been meaning to share it. It’s the Periodic Table Printmaking Project. A very cool project brought together 97 printers from 7 countries, each lending a unique printed piece with special techniques. The result is a mesmerizing quilt of art, science and awesomeness. There is also a Flickr group for print artists to submit and swap out their pieces.


Book Review: The Richest Man in Town

The Richest Man in Town is a book in the vein of The Millionaire Next Door and paints an interesting picture of America’s most financially successful people. Author Randall Jones pulls out his notes and rolodex he amassed while putting together Worth magazine. The cross section and insights these provide are very illuminating. This book is less on the stats and numbers and more about the philosophies and outlooks of the richest men in town.

Jones organizes the book into 12 Commandments of Wealth, all traits and habits he’s noticed many RMITs share. He then fleshes out these ideas with interviews, history and facts provided by the RMITs he interviews. While you will probably recognize many of the people Jones interviews, the fun part is reading about the RMITs you’ve never heard of. He even interviews and quotes two people from Alabama! One from Tuscaloosa and another in Birmingham.

The book is equal parts personal finance philosophy and business acumen. I think it’s a great read for anyone trying to grow the back account beyond the “paycheck to paycheck” cycle so many are stuck in. I give it 3 out of 5. You can visit the book’s standalone site here.

(In the spirit of full-disclosure, I was given this book by the publisher to read and review.)

Making Changes to the Site

Exciting things are happening over at LibraryThing and they tie in locally. So I am making a few changes to help bolster their efforts and build buzz for local Birmingham bookstores. This first change, really will affects the handful of visitors that have subscribed to the {head}:sub/head Google Calendar. I have decided to stop updating that calendar.

Three years ago, when I started it Google Calendar was a great way for people to subscribe to events that I posted, but now LibraryThing has a fetaure that they call LibraryThing Local. It’s relaly cool and gets cooler every month. So instead of keeping up with author events and book signings in Google Calendar, I will be maintaing the information over on LibraryThing and displaying the RSS feed from the events, in my sidebar. So you will be able to subscribe to the Birmingham Book Events RSS feed instead.

So if you have been using the Google Calendar, thanks! It’s been fun. But not as fun as the next few months are going to be. If you know of any local book-related events in and around Birmingham, please pass it along or enter it into LibraryThing.

Enhancing Magazines and Books

Experimenting. That’s what publishers are doing and it is very cool to think about what the near-future holds. This week I’m playing with two such experiments. One from a magazine publisher, the other from a book publisher.

Enhance Print Media

First, the print magazine. While many magazines are still reeling from economic and industry shifts, Esquire is charging ahead with quirky and innovative (though sometimes clunky) tech/design mash-ups such as an embedded eInk cover and the December 2009 issue featuring “augmented reality”. While, in my mind what the issue holds is not true augmented reality, it is 100% pure print enhancement. To enjoy the enhancements you need to:

  1. Have a computer and webcam.
  2. Buy the magazine.
  3. Download the Esquire reader/viewer software (for Mac and PC)
  4. Install and launch software. Once up you just hold one of the 6 encoded boxes up to the camera.

AR Code

On your screen you can see the image of the page, but the model on the page starts moving and talking. It’s pretty cool. Though much more fun with a webcam not embedded at the top of a laptop monitor. It’s hard to see around the magazine to see the screen, since you have to keep the magazine held up to the camera. If you rotate the page, it’s like changing the channel on a tv. As an example, the printed page has a single shot of a model. But if you hold that page up to the webcam, the model will don winter clothes if the magazine in upright, and Spring clothes if your rotate 90 degrees. Rotate another 90 and he swaps out for Summer, etc.

While these codes certainly unlock more content than a basic QR code it is GREAT that publishers are starting to add things to their products. So if you get a chance, grab a copy of the magazine, play around and imagine what consumers will be enjoying this time next year.

Tomorrow I’ll post about the new Zuiker book I picked up, “Level 26“. It’s a book penned by the guy who created the CSI series and ties in with pre-recorded video to move the story along. We’ll see how that goes.

Chip Kidd and James Ellroy video

I recently ran across this video of Chip Kidd and James Ellroy. Though the video centers mostly on James Ellroy’s style and writing (he is one intense dude, no doubt) there are some spots where they discuss how the writing influences Kidd’s approach to designing a cover for the same author over and over. (Sidenote: Chip Kidd is also on Twitter as @chipkidd)

Book Review: X Saves the World

X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking by Jeff Gordinier

This is a book that I want to share with my friends. Gordinier does a FANTASTIC job of capturing the thoughts, discussions, issues and music that I had all throughout my school days.

Gordinier does a good job of outlining the media’s fascination with the tsunami that is the Baby Boomer generation and the lurid news fix on the youngest generation, the Millennials. Sandwiched between these two spotlight hogging masses is Generation X.

If you’re looking for a strong call to action to save the world and a 10 bullet-point plan for starting a movement. This book isn’t it (and you’re probably a Boomer anyway). If you’re looking for a book to outline a strategy to get your cause noticed and bring some media attention your way. This book isn’t it (and you’re probably a Millennial).

This book has all those things, but presents them in a much more REAL way. Not slacker. Not dumb. Not unmotivated. But data driven; experience driven; community driven. Real.

At 179 pages, it reads like a well-informed passionate op-ed piece and not much more. And the beauty of it, is that it doesn’t try to be much more. Sure there are the rants and causes that come into play late in the book, but this is all just to show what’s possible and what Generation X is grappling with now, in 2009.

At a minimum, the book will have you out renting Slacker, Googling Captain Beefheart and surfing eBay for Oblique Strategy Cards.

So if you’re looking for something to help you build you case or start a movement, there are probably better books out there. But if you’re interested in what’s happened over the past 20 years, where it’s all going and who is in charge, then this short cultural history is just the thing.

(Special thanks to Laura whose review made me want to pick up this book)