Order Your Museum and Follow its Progress

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The Tiny Type Museum & Time Capsule crowdfunding campaign funded magnificently—thank you to everyone who backed the campaign and the larger number of people who provided moral support and design suggestions!

I’m now taking direct pre-orders for elements of the project. Most museum are now spoken for (about two-thirds of the edition of 100 I’m making), but you still have time to order one, as well as pre-ordering separately the book I’m writing for it, Six Centuries of Type & Printing, which will be typeset in Monotype hot metal and printed by letterpress. The museum and book are in preparation for delivery in January 2020.

Here’s where you can order the various components:

I’ve also created a dedicated site that explains the museum, and a blog that I’ll post updates about its progress to.

The Tiny Type Museum and Time Capsule

Update: The project was wildly successful, and I’ll be making elements of it available for separate order soon at tinytypemuseum.com.

My latest typographic project is now live: I’m raising funds to build up to 100 tiny type museums and time capsules! These little museums will comprise actual historical and modern type artifacts, replicas, and printing samples—like a real museum—and the case and its components will be designed to last for centuries—or longer—like a real time capsule.

The cost isn’t low, but I tried to balance the authenticity and lifespan of the project, to give it substance and longevity, with the budget. I hope you’ll take a look at the main reward of the museum, and other campaign items, which include a book and a Linotype “slug” of type.


New Book: Take Control of Slack

Trying to understand Slack? Or want to step up your mastery to be more efficient and get more out of it? I have a new book just for you! Take Control of Slack is the start-to-finish guide for Slack users you wish you had when you first fired the app up. The book covers macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and the Web app.

I wrote this for three groups of people:

  • The new user: If you’re interested in or tempted by Slack but have never used it, this book will help you get up to speed quickly.

  • The experienced user: If you use Slack already and want to get more out of it, this book will guide you to more efficient and more sophisticated use and control.

  • The reluctant user: If Slack is a requirement for your workplace, nonprofit group, or other organization, this book will help you overcome frustration and confusion.

You can read more about the book and download an excerpt at the Take Control Books site.

Live Podcast Taping at Ada’s on January 23: Life of a Letterpress Printer

Join me January 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 as I host an episode of his podcast The New Disruptors live at Ada's Technical Books and Café in Seattle with three letterpress printers as guests to talk about making some or all of their living in the 21st century by working in the past with techniques, equipment, and type that date as far back as the 19th century and earlier.

My panel discussion features Demian Johnston, Sarah Kulfan, and Amy Redmond, and we’ll talk about their work and practices, and how they make the past mesh with the present, especially at a time when authenticity is highly prized. The event will end with a Q&A and informal discussion. The printers and I will have some of their work on hand and available for purchase. (Note that this live event will be taped for later online audio posting.)

Admission is free and no ticket is required, but space is limited. As an incentive to venture out in the January cold, the first 20 or so arrivals will receive a free pastry courtesy of the podcast, so come early!

The New Disruptors podcast features independent artists who control how their work is made and distributed in a constantly changing creative economy. It was brought back after a hiatus through the support of patrons.

Update:  A great time was had by all!  Photo by    Jeff Carlson

Update: A great time was had by all! Photo by Jeff Carlson

Biographies:

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Sarah Kulfan is a visual designer, illustrator, and letterpress printer. She is the proprietrix of Gallo Pinto Press and Beans n’ Rice where she respectively prints limited edition prints and runs her freelance graphic design business. Sarah thrives working as an independent artist and designer where the flexibility in her schedule allows her plenty of time for opting outside. Instagram: @hellobeansnrice

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Amy Redmond is a Seattle-based visual designer and artist who has been using letterpress as a medium for self-expression since 1998. Her apprenticeship with Stern & Faye, Printers, cultivated an appreciation for traditional and experimental use of letterforms. Amy works as an independent art director and graphic designer, and prints in her studio Amada Press. Her work has appeared nationally in solo and group shows. She teaches at SVC and PLU. She is a 2018 GAP Award recipient. Instagram: @amadapress

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Demian Johnston is the Designer and Pressman at Annie's Art & Press, a letterpress shop in Ballard. At SVC, he teaches both introductory and advanced classes in the letterpress program. His design and illustration work has appeared in The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, City Arts, and Beer Advocate. He is also the founder of the art and music label Dead Accents and a veteran performing musician in Seattle’s underground music scene. Instagram: @anniesartandpress




Radio Free Glenning for January

My appearances on actual radio (as opposed to podcasts) goes in spates. After my Smithsonian magazine article appeared about the entry of 1923 in the U.S. into the public domain, I was asked to be on several shows.

NPR’s All Things Considered emailed me for a story, but I missed the email! They riffed off my article and spoke with Jennifer Jenkins, the director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School, my stalwart source for all things public domain, and produced a very nice brief take. (A few days later NPR’s Weekend Edition did a longer and fun interview with Jenkins and her husband, James Boyle, also a copyright and public domain expert.)

WNYC interviewed me for a brief segment on the public domain that ran on January 4.

Wisconsin Public Radio had me on for a live interview on January 7 in which I was able to get a little more deeply into issues. (An issue raised in that interview: Recorded music remains under a separate copyright regime; 1922 and earlier recorded music expires from protection Jan. 1, 2022; 1923 expires Jan. 1, 2024; and then annual regular expirations happen more or less thereafter, just as with published work of all kinds. I left a comment to explain that for listeners baffled by my aside about “Yes! We Have No Bananas.”)

On Jan. 9, I recorded a long interview with WGN in Chicago for a segment aired Jan. 13 on the same topic.

Finally, I spoke recently with my friend Anze at Slovenia’s national radio network—but not about the public domain! We talked about Facebook’s devaluation of the birthday. I’ll be dubbed into Slovenian! (Updated: Here’s the link.)

Yes, We Have Some Bananas!

Updated: We sang it!

Celebrate the entry of everything first published in the U.S. in 1923 into the public domain this January 1st by singing, “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” a 1923 novelty song that is no longer protected by copyright as of midnight on New Year’s Day! The tune is a send-up of a greengrocer one of the songwriters met, who started every sentence with “yes,” even when the answer was “no.”

With the January 1, 2019, expiration of 1923 copyrights in the U.S., anyone can perform that song without license or fee (and even release a recording for free or charge for it), along with thousands of other tunes (mostly forgotten) from that year.

I’ll be leading at least one chorus among New Year’s celebrants at my house at a midnight past midnight Eastern, and then post it to social media.

Here’s the original sheet music.

(I recommend avoiding Louis Prima’s and similar versions that play up a jokey ethnic style; the song’s original lyrics celebrate inventive use of language, rather than ridicule the speaker!)

(Audio recordings have a very different set of rights, recently modernized by Congress in a remarkable show of compromise among musicians, companies, and political parties. The above 1923 recording remains under separate copyright protection—called a “phonogram” right—for several years longer. If I’ve done my math correctly, a 1923 recording expires January 1, 2024, or to the end of the calendar year 100 years from its initial protection.)

Whose Words These Are

I have an article in the January 2019 issue of Smithsonian magazine about the potential cultural impact of the expiration of copyright on nearly everything published in the U.S. in 1923. With few exceptions, everything that had proper initial notice and filed for copyright renewal from that year in 1951 (renewal was once required) will enter the public domain on January 1. It’s exciting, as it starts a 54-year cycle of annual releases of each year from 95 years prior into the public domain.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a prominent bit of literature from 1923. Robert Frost’s poems have had zealous copyright enforcement. It even featured in a landmark Supreme Court case, Eldred v. Ashcroft, in which the Supreme Court decided that the “limited terms” of exclusive ownership defined in the Constitution meant any duration that Congress picked.

In honor of “Stopping by Woods” upcoming entry into the public domain, I wrote this bit of doggerel. (A fancy typeset version appears below.)

STOPPING BY WORDS ON A NEW YEAR’S EVENING

Whose words these are it’s clear to see,
He wrote them back in ’twenty-three.
His reps have never stopped the fight
To limit use by copyright.

James Madison would think it queer
That rights this long could stay so dear,
But courts have let extensions be
Despite the case of Eldred v.

The house of publication shakes
Off questions that renewal breaks
In ’fifty-one, a form not sent—
No one tried to show dissent.*

The words are lovely, free and clear,
With oceans more that will appear.
And years to go before release,
And years to go before release.

*In an example of the kind of complexities that surround copyright, the poem first appeared in The New Republic, and may have not had proper renewal in 1951. It’s possible it’s been properly in the public domain for 67 years.

2018 Creative Year in Review

Last year was hard to top. I had a designer in residence position at the School of Visual Concepts, printed a book by letterpress, traveled to New York for a Kickstarter event, Wisconsin for the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum Wayzgoose, and to London to research a book.

2018 started weakly. I got the flu on Christmas Eve, recovered briefly, and then was so knocked out with secondary illnesses that it took me about four months to recover fully. During that time, I was also writing a book, finding new publications to write for, and figuring out what I would do across the year.

It turned out pretty well in the end.

In the first part of the year, I finished researching and writing London Kerning, and then designed the book and had it printed—and then shipped it out to hundreds of people. I undersold myself on demand and ran out, and then banged a drum to sell enough copies to create a second printing. And then sent those out! (I wrote about the finances of the project in some depth for those interested.)

I had another book underway, too: the letterpress title I printed in 2017 wasn’t yet fully complete. I ran late in the printing, which cascaded into a large delay for Jules Faye, the bookbinder who created an incredible package for the work. I sent out part of the edition of 100 books in 2017, and the rest by April. I had a few unnumbered artist’s proofs remaining, and sold some of those, too. (There are a very few copies left, if you want one! You can also get a single chapter bound in a translucent vellum.)

This year I also updated some of my tech/how-to titles. Take Control of Wi-Fi Networking and Security hadn’t been updated in a few years when it was uncertain what Apple intended for its in-house Wi-Fi devices. This latest edition is more generally focused, especially for readers who haven’t set up Wi-Fi before or are replacing a whole house or small-office network. I also revised A Practical Guide to Networking and Security in iOS for iOS 12. And I wrote a new title, Take Control of Your Apple ID, which is full of tips and troubleshooting advice for Apple’s surprisingly fraught account-management system. I’m currently revising a Take Control title about using Slack for January 2019.

I continued writing for a slate of publications (not including Slate) that include the Economist, the AtlanticFast CompanyIncrementMacworld, and TidBITS. (You can find a searchable list of nearly everything I’ve ever written at my Authory profile, which also provides a feed of new articles.)

My first article appeared in Smithsonian magazine (about 1923 and the public domain) and at Fortune online, where since June I’ve been writing breaking news every afternoon alongside other reporters.

I apparently wrote over 500 articles this year! That comes in part from the stint at Fortune, where I might file two to four stories a day combined with the Macworld Mac 911 column I’ve now written for years, which usually results in me filing three items a week.

Some of the favorite or most meaningful stories that I wrote and which appeared this year include:

  • Why European-descended Americans seem to want to declare themselves Native Americans (for the Economist). This story’s hook was Elizabeth Warren’s exploration of her past in a way that didn’t involved consulting the native community. I was spoke to Rosanne Cash for the story, someone I’ve known for years due to Twitter, as I’d read her father had once claimed heritage—then discovered he was incorrect. She said he was very disappointed, but he persisted in fighting for native rights.

  • The paper that poisoned its printers (for the Economist). This bit of history arose from my London trip in late 2017. For Queen Victoria’s coronation, one newspaper printed a golden-hued portrait—which sickened many involved in its production. Breaking news from 1838!

  • Why the genome of wheat is so massive (for the Economist). I had a great time learning about this topic, and this “Economist Explains” column found its way into a collection of these explainers, called Seriously Curious that came out in late 2018.

  • The Racism Behind One of the World’s Largest Time Capsules” (for the Atlantic). I was slightly obsessed with this story for two years after discovering its detail. The Atlantic helped me birth it. The time capsule at a college in Georgia is like a dark mirror to the monuments aboveground, over which battles currently rage.

  • A First Look At The Spheres, Amazon’s Wild New Corporate Biodome” (for Co.Design). Amazon gave me early access to their new habitat in January, and I broke the news that the company planned to bring a “titan arum” in—a corpse flower—when one bloomed. They finally did so in October.

  • How Facebook Devalued The Birthday” (for Fast Company). My jeremiad on how when hundreds of people know your birthday, the social currency is wiped out.

  • The history of documentation (for Increment). From Noah (sort of) through Chaucer via sewing machines and farm machinery and to the modern era. Article opens with Squirrel Girl’s Ryan North and his dog, Noam Chompsky.

After finishing my residency, I had a lot of letterpress knowledge and research to hand, and decided to restart a Patreon campaign I had tried before. (The previous effort had led directly to the residency.) The new campaign, which looks for recurring pledges of $1 or more a month, provides funds that help me write more about typography, printing, language, and history as they connect. Funds this year gave me the flexibility to travel to TypeCon and give a talk, pay to scan a seminal 1887 book about typesetting races, and buy a high-quality book scanning device so I can turn more public-domain works into resources for the rest of the world.

Also this year, I restarted the podcast The New Disruptors. I produced almost 95 episodes between 2012 and 2014 about creating work independently in the new economy with new models and tools. A number of people asked me to bring the show back, and a Kickstarter in mid-2018 gave me the funds to do so. You can listen to old and new episodes via the Web site or by subcribing to the podcast feed.

I gave a few talks and presentations this year, and you can watch me speak about my year in review of my SVC residnecy, which covers lots of aspects of my work and the history of printing. I also edited up this talk I gave about London and type history at Ada’s Technical books mid-year.

Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported this great year!

The Passing of Roland Hoover, a Design Mentor

Roland Hoover, 1929–2018 (photo via  APHA Chesapeake Chapter )

Roland Hoover, 1929–2018 (photo via APHA Chesapeake Chapter)

Just got the news yesterday that Roland Hoover, a design mentor from college passed away at the age of 89. He was a letterpress printer and designer, known for his fine book and other printing. I knew him as my boss at the Yale University Printing Service where he was the University Printer. He was cranky and demanding, but generous and supportive—you know: a designer!

I learned an enormous amount from him, but my big failing was not studying letterpress printing with him. I thought at the time letterpress was going to be relegated to re-enactments, because of the end of metal-type production and spare parts. I’m so glad I was wrong, and we’re living in a renaissance of craft letterpress printing. (I wrote last year for Wired about why that’s happening.)

Very little of Roland's work can be found online, largely because most letterpress work is in limited editions and handed from person to person or retained by libraries. In more recent times, a lot of letterpress posters and cards can be purchased online, but Roland's work was often perishable or commemorative. Here's a notable piece celebrating Gutenberg.

The printing service was an oddball thing that I worked at as a senior and then for a year after graduation, running its "imaging center," which was what the typesetting department had effectively become. (I had a staff of one: a man 45 years old than me who was the onsite proofreader. I didn't need to do much supervision! Poor Walter, getting a 21-year-old as a boss!)

Roland's role was twofold: To run the place, which had a full offset printing plant and a photocopying and supply arm, and also a print broker arm of in-house staff that arranged for the many larger projects and books (not Yale Press ones) to get printed around the region; and to set a design tone and style for the university, producing and commissioning work as needed, and sometimes designing and printing posters himself. Roland was far better at the latter, and not terribly interested in the former, but had a great "lieutenant," Joe Maynard, who retired a few years ago after decades of service to Yale. Joe taught me a lot about business and negotiation.

Roland and I had a pretty solid relationship, even if I’m sure I drove him nuts. He had little interest in desktop publishing, and I already had five years' experience by 1990 in using PageMaker and then QuarkXPress nearly every day. But we made it work. He was interested in great typography, and so was I, and he taught me a lot of intricacies in thinking about design and how things look on paper. He appreciated the ability to turn ideas into type, but he didn’t always like the type that could be make or the composition that could be set at that time.

I also worked closely with Frank Tierney, the staff designer, and Roland on the re-creation of Yale College diplomas, ones awarded to undergraduates. For decades, a local printing firm produced diploma blanks by letterpress, and kept a Monotype hot-metal system alive mostly for Yale to set all the student names. I believe it cost $70,000 a year to print the undergraduate diplomas (about 1,200 a class at that time), and the outside printer wanted to or said it was going to dump its hot-metal system. We worked to transition to laser printing. This involved design testing and sending resulting work to the college library’s preservation department for age and heat testing to simulate conditions after 300 years. It passed. I spent a lot of time in spring 1991 feeding blank diplomas through a large-format Linotype-Hell laser printer. My Yale College class, 1990, received the last letterpress-printed diplomas; starting in 1991, they were laser printed (and I don’t know if that persisted nor how it’s done today).

Roland inspired my interest in the typeface Albertus, designed in the 1930s by Berthold Wolpe. Roland had a font (or more than one) in metal, and admired it quite a bit. When it came time for my senior project, I wanted to design a font. He and Greer Allen (the previous university printer who lived nearby and was in regularly with projects) suggested reviving Albertus, which at that point wasn’t available in any good form digitally. Greer also had known Wolpe—I’m not sure as well, but one of Wolpe’s kids recalls Greer and his wife Sue visiting when he was a child. (Monotype released an incomplete version that was derived from phototype; it wasn’t until last year that Toshi Omagari’s Monotype revival of Albertus, called Albertus Nova, fulfilled the face electronically.)

I took their advice, and named my version Furioso after the poem Orlando Furioso—Roland the Berserker. It was meant as a compliment, and I got plenty of great feedback from him as I worked up the font for decades. Roland’s inspiration led 30 years later to my trip to London last year and the book London Kerning, which is partly dedicated to Wolpe and Albertus, and which led me to meet Toshi, the revival designer, and Wolpe’s youngest son, Toby, a fellow technology editor and writer.

Roland was a tremendous influence on my creative life, and while I hadn’t been in touch in decades, I still regularly think about the advice he gave me, and use it in my practice.

Apple ID Troubles? I Can Help with a New Book

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The Apple ID acts as the pivot point around which Apple’s ecosystem turns. It’s an account that you use to manage iCloud, purchases, subscriptions, and lost devices, among a dozen other purposes.

This account covers everything in the Apple ecosystem, but it’s also difficult to work with, as Apple made it quite inflexible. You can’t merge accounts or split elements out of them. You can’t transfer purchases, nor can you make purchases with a single account in multiple countries, if you live and travel in multiple places regularly.

My new book, Take Control of Your Apple ID, distills everything I’ve learned over many years, including from thousands of emails I’ve received at Macworld in writing the Mac 911 Q&A column. I know the problems people have experienced, and how to solve them—or whether they can be solved at all.

This book is both a source of advice and troubleshooting, but also has two other purposes: I tell you how to better prevent account problems, such as difficulty recovering account access if something goes wrong.

And I describe how to recognize a hack in progress against your account—and how to stop it while it’s underway.

It’s a slim volume at 76 pages, and costs just $7.99. Snag the ebook today!