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Monthly Archives: July 2007
Print on Demand for Libraries and Bookstores – the Espresso Book Machine

Filed under Print On Demand

The Espresso Book Machine prints complete paperback books at rates up to one every sixty seconds – complete interior pages in black and white with full color, perfect bound covers. You can even see it in action.

At a million dollars apiece I doubt that you or I will be setting one up in the basement. The machines are intended for use by libraries and retailers, who can offer inexpensive but commercial quality books to you, on demand. Because there are already large collections of public domain digital books – more all the time – it’s possible that in the future no book will ever need to be unavailable. “Out of print” may become a meaningless phrase.

Machines are already in place at the library of Alexandria in Egypt (nice touch!) and in Washington DC, at the World Bank InfoShop. Another has just been installed at the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library. More are headed to libraries in New Orleans, San Francisco, and other cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Libraries – like bookstores – have limited shelf space. And although it goes against my own idea of what a library should be, they commonly discard books that aren’t popular. A system like this one can ensure that books can be made available even if they’re not kept on the shelves.

On the commercial side, a bookstore could use these machines to produce public domain books on demand and even copyrighted books, under license, so that any book could potentially be available at any time. It’s a pretty exciting thing.

This reminds me of an idea I had about fifteen years ago – although that thought was about clothes, not books. If a retailer had a large selection of patterns available and a 3D scanner you could walk into a shop, have your body scanned, and pick the clothing style and material you wanted. Tailor-fit clothes could be then made for you at a nearby – or distant – workshop. No kind of clothing would ever have to be unavailable, and anything you bought would fit you perfectly. You could get a pair of custom fit khakis and a nineteenth century frock coat at the same place, at the same time. I’m still waiting for that one.

But when it comes to the books, anyway, I think this is a terrific development. The only snag I can foresee is that in the decades to come, any book that’s been published in electronic form with DRM may not be easily reproduced even after it falls into the public domain – because DRM, unlike copyright, is forever.

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“Space Cadet” Scion XA

Filed under Computer Graphics, Works in Progress

Retro-Futurist Scion

Heres‘ my entry – possibly my first entry – in the “Skin a Scion” contest at Deviant Art.

True to form, I ended up skinning the world around the car, too. Win or lose, I think I’ll end up retooling the scene after the contest, with one of my own vehicles. Something you’d expect to see coming out of the Retropolis Rocket Works.

My Sites – Celtic Art Books

Filed under Print On Demand, Works in Progress

Celtic Art BooksI’ve always loved books, and I do mean always; I learned to read at such an early age that I can’t remember doing it, or a time when I couldn’t read. That’s very different from the way I learned to talk, but trust me – that’s another story.

In fact when I was young I always believed that I was going to be a writer. It just didn’t work out that way.

I started using traditional Celtic knotwork designs in my drawings and paintings back in 1980. During the 80s I continued that and eventually began to invent new patterns of my own. Then at some point in the early 90’s, I stopped. I think it was because I was getting so typecast as “the Celtic Art Guy” that it was annoying, and I figured I ought to show my chops in some other kind of art. But also, I probably wanted to explore something a bit different just to suit myself.

“Stilt Walkers” by Alexis van der Haeghe

Filed under Computer Graphics, Found on the Web

Stilt Walkers” is a beautiful, four minute student film by Alexis van der Haeghe of Belgium. It reminds me of those old days when I’d zoom across California in my art nouveau airship, investigating the clouds and having adventures. Except that I didn’t do that, of course. But watching this boy have his own adventures sure makes me wish I had, and I almost feel like I did.

Clad in an aviator’s helmet and plus-fours, the boy is clearly having the time of his life until he encounters a pair of comedia-del-arte style giants on towering stilts. Complications ensue, all in fine style. Highly recommended.

The artist has since done some work on a movie trailer and a CD, but seems to be working away, at the moment, on a children’s book. A personal project – glad to see that. I’m always interested in what we can do when we’re not bound by what someone else thinks they can profit from.

Make your own DNA Necklace

Filed under Found on the Web

All right, first things first. Why the heck would you want to put your DNA in a necklace?

1. A gift for your spouse so that he/she/it can clone you, if things go badly at the office tomorrow.

2. A chance to sprinkle your own DNA very far away from the crime scene. In a way that conclusively proves you weren’t there at the relevant time.

3. A little memory aid, just in case you experience a vacant moment in the middle of reciting your chromosome pairs. If this is you, please don’t come to that party on Saturday.

Or.. something. Anyway, since we’ve established your motive (you can tell that I’m all about the second reason) the vampirewear.com web site offers you detailed and, for all I know, accurate instructions on how to sample, isolate and contain your own DNA – all so they can sell you a stylish vial to keep it in. See? Stylin’.

This nugget of academic dementia was thrown through the Secret Laboratory’s skylight by Jean Roth.

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Down in the Basement. Where it Strains Against its Chains and Turns a Gigantic Wheel of Pain, for all Eternity. Muahahahahaha.