Category Archives: Technology

With Big Data Comes Big Responsibilty

This came across Twitter the other day and is so very true:

 My fear is that publishers will use the reader data they collect from eReaders the same way that Hollywood uses focus groups to make movies.

It’s no secret that some publishers are closely watching the reports of “most highlighted passage”, “most shared photos” and “where people quit reading the book”. Lots of good stuff to learn there.

But, there is a reason that the world is awash in too many books, crappy TV and weak movies. . . the people in charge of cranking out books, tv and movies are courting the largest mass of consumers they can. And for mass appeal you make something that equals the lowest common denominator (at worst) or is simply a novelty (at best).

Let’s hope that book publishers have a sense of all of these lessons and can do a fair job of making contributions to their readers’ lives and not just spewing books filled with the most profitable sentences their algorithms said they could string together

Free eBook – John Carter Barsoom Series

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to see what all of the John Carter fuss was about. So I went looking for the first book in the series. Which, after a few Google searches, told me was A Princess of Mars. The problem was I didn’t know if I’d like it, so I didn’t want a new copy. I checked two local used-book spots and struck out. There is also a waiting list to get one of the library copies, so I turned to eBooks. I didn’t originally start here as I like old vintage sci-fi artwork and I was hoping to get something along those lines (still am).

I knew that Edgar Rice Burroughs penned the Barsoom series books a long time ago and that they would be in the public domain, so I went to Project Gutenberg first. And there it was. In eight different formats. So I grabbed a .prc file and loaded it on my device, via email. I have to say that it’s great fun so far. If you like Golden Age-styled science fiction you should check it out.

Here are links and screenshots of the various online services. It’s interesting to see them all side-by-side so you can note the similarities and differences between them.

Project Gutenberg



Google Play

Since the book is public domain all of the platforms should have copies. I have no idea if these files differ, but Kindle, Nook and Google all have free e-book versions. In fact, Kindle, Google and Project Gutenberg all allow onine in-browser reading. Something that the nook service lacks. Plus, the Kindle, Nook and Google platforms all have syncing. So if you are on page 52 on your kindle and then run an errand, you can pull out your phone app and it will sync to the right place.

I’m waiting to see how this book ends before deciding if I’m going to complete the series. Have any of you read through the series?



A Typesetter Made World’s First Audio Recording

In 1860, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville was a typesetter (and possibly a bookseller) in Paris. He also liked to tinker, which lead him down the path of making the world’s first audio recording, using his printing tools and knowledge.

autophonograph or autophonogramPrinting and imprinting is something Scott understood very well. Capturing the song in 10 second visually-printed snippets must not have been too difficult, once he figured it out. The problem was he didn’t know how to play back what he’d recorded!

He printed all of the “grooves”, using his phonautograph on rag paper,  but no phonautograph-reader has been found.

So modern-day scientists had to cook up a way to sight-read the recordings, to what I think are pretty nifty (and spooky) sounding results.

This scenario doesn’t sound too different from today as people in the music, movie, book, web and mobile fields are crossing lines, mashing up tools and pushing boundaries to make new books and products. I just think it’s neat that the first audio recording ever made was actually printed on paper.

Typography and Instagram

The folks over at We Love Typography are mobilizing the world’s font faithful in a very cool new project mapping cool fonts around the world. To participate all you have to do is have the iOS Instagram app installed, have geotagging turned ‘on’, snap a pic and upload it with the tag #wlt or #welovetype. Then the crawlers will grab it an place it on the correct place on this Google Map.

Typography World Google Map

No doubt it’s going to get crowded fast. But it’s a great idea.

There are also two new FREE iOS apps for font and type geeks:

Fontli iconFontli, has an Instagram-feel, and is trying to build a social network around fonts. The idea being that you could submit a snap shot of some type and your virtual rolodex of font-ish friends could help you identify it. Also, there is…


FontMaker IconFontmaker, which lets you create your own font variations to use in text messaging and emails sent from your mobile device. Not super-useful, but I could see where some would get a kick out of throwing in some random ligatures and letter forms.