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.


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!

Summer Updates!

Summer came rushing in, and while we swelter, I have a few updates:

  • The New Disruptors podcast crowdfunding campaign met its goal! I'll be producing new episodes starting in August. When the first new episode launches, there will be more ways to help keep it going beyond the 12 episode/1 year schedule I used Kickstarter to fund. It was a nail biter: a very generous supporter came in during the last five minutes to bring the campaign home!
  • My London Kerning book is available in London itself from Magma Books. If you visit London, you can pick up a copy in person, but the company also offers inexpensive shipping across the UK, Ireland, and the rest of Europe.
  • Speaking of London, I visited my books and other sites with the family earlier this month. You can read briefly about that trip and some thoughts about stone lettercarving I saw throughout London at this Patreon post. (Did you know you could pledge a recurring amount as low as $1 a month to help support my typographic and related writing?)
  • Next week, I'll be at TypeCon, a typographic event, held this year in Portland, OR. I'm giving a talk on, what else, typographic archives in London! Do you sense a theme?
  • A few copies remain of my letterpress-printed book, Not To Put Too Fine a Point on It. These are artists' proofs identical to the original numbered edition, except not numbered. They are signed and can be inscribed.
  • In September, I'll be giving a talk at Ada's Books on Johnston Sans, the typeface that's been used for London transportation since 1916. More details to follow. (Ticket will be $5; 21+ venue with soft and hard drinks, plus food, for sale; London Kerning books available.)
  • Since mid-June, I've been writing news every afternoon for Fortune magazine's Briefings section. These are short items about breaking news written to provide quick analysis into what's happening at the moment. It's different than other writing I've done, and invigorating!
Note the mix of new (top) and old (middle) signs. One of the few places in London that retains older signs.

Note the mix of new (top) and old (middle) signs. One of the few places in London that retains older signs.

The New Disruptors Bonus Episode with Lucy Bellwood

My dear friend Lucy Bellwood passed through town last weekend, and stayed with my family as the start of her book tour for 100 Demon Dialogues, a set of cartoons in which she engages with her inner critic, who appears in the form of a smack-talking demon. She’s a talented illustrator and writer, and the book is full of tension and embrace: she doesn’t cast her demon out, but helps him understand her better. You can order a copy of the book via her site or ask your local bookstore to carry it. (You can also order a plush version of the demon, as I did.)

She asked me to have a conversation about creativity and our latest projects in front of a live audience at Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond. (Which, by the way, I highly recommend: the store opened last year, has great selections, and a terrific proprietor and staff.) I recorded our non-demonic dialogue, and produced a special episode of The New Disruptors podcast, which I retired in 2014. (You can subscribe via a podcast app to the feed.)

I started a crowdfunding campaign to bring back The New Disruptors for a new season of at least 12 episodes, and I’m halfway through the fundraising period—and over 55% of the way to the goal. If you’d like to hear more new episodes, please back the campaign. At $25 and above, you get insider rewards; at $100, your name will be read on the air and you’ll get an exclusive enamel pin!

You can still become a patron of my letterpress book project

My project to letterpress print a book of my reporting on type, printing, and punctuation reached its funding goal weeks ago and then finished out a couple weeks back. All 100 copies of the book have been spoken for, though I am working up plans to produce a few special copies sales of which I'll donate 100% of the proceeds to causes that need help right now.

However, those who want to still come in as patrons at the two lower levels offered in the Kickstarter campaign are very welcome. 

  • Ebook-only reward ($15). Receive an ebook that contains the full text of the letterpress edition plus articles I write over the next several months about producing the book. (Link to book ships by August 2017.)
  • Keepsake plus ebook ($30). Receive a letterpress-printed keepsake I make that will be interesting to look at, hold, and share with others, and the ebook edition. (Keepsake ships by June 2017.)

You can use this simple ecommerce page to pledge at those levels. As with Kickstarter, you'll be charged immediately and I plan to deliver the goods by the above dates, and communicate any delays in the meantime.

Letterpress printing a book of my writing

I first studied letterpress in the late 1980s, when it was barely used commercially and seemed to be a dying craft, as no new equipment was being made, metal type foundries were fading, and hot-metal systems required parts that no longer existed and maintenance few people knew how to handle. (The movie Linotype tells this story very well.)

The letterpress shop at SVC

I thought it would disappear for good. But it was saved through a combination of digital and analog factors that I'll be bringing to bear in my new crowdfunding project, Hands On: the Original Digital, a limited-edition book of my reporting on type, design, and punctuation that I'll be letterpress printing at the School of Visual Concepts. SVC asked me to be its 2017 Designer in Residence, inaugurating a program to bring in outside experts to make use of their facilities to learn, create, and teach.

Here's the video explaining my Kickstarter campaign:

What saved letterpress in part is photopolymer plates. You can create work digitally, send it to a service bureau (notably, Boxcar Press in New York), and they create film from the file just as we used to do for offset printing, but then expose a photosensitive rubbery material. Exposed areas harden. The rest washes away. And these robust plates can be used on letterpress equipment. It bypasses the problem of a lack of and the fragility of metal type.

That's how I'll be able to make this book. I'll design it digitally (in InDesign), have plates made for the interior pages, and then print it on a press at SVC. It's the best of both worlds.

SVC teaches visual communications, such as user experience (UX) design and graphic design, but has a full-blown letterpress program with regular courses and special events. The program's founder, Jenny Wilkson, asked me to be in residence and will mentor me on this project.

You can read a lot more about the project at the Kickstarter page, and I hope you'll consider supporting it!

Crowdfunding The Magazine: The Complete Archives

Never let it be said that I do things by half measures: I've launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund producing the complete archives of The Magazine, the publication I edited and then purchased, in ebook form. It will be nearly 300 articles and over 500,000 words, and may be so large I split it into several files to avoid clogging ereaders and ebook software.

We had a remarkable range of articles and contributors, and this campaign will let me collect it all in one place, and then make it available forever through ebookstores and beyond. Thanks for considering being part of it!