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Who says you can’t have a PDF book and print it too?

I’m in the process of recovering from a great weekend I had at the pre-conference of Lavacon hosted by the Adobe TCS team this weekend. There is so much to tell, but I’m working on a separate post for that, so stay tuned–it should be up in a day or so.

In the meantime, I just wanted to share something that I thought was pretty cool. Lavacon is taking place in Portland, Oregon, which is the home of the world famous Powell’s Bookstore. It is one of those landmarks that anyone who visits Portland has to visit, even if it’s just for a few minutes. The store occupies an entire city block, and includes both used books and new in print books. I was told by multiple sources that one should not think that an hour is enough time to spend in the store, as an hour easily turns into a whole day there. It’s THAT cool.

Marcia leads Val and I to Powell’s!

Well, I had a very limited window where I was going to be able to check out the city before returning home from the Adobe Day event, and my new friend, author Marcia Riefer Johnson who writes the blog, “How to Write Everything,” took me and Val Swisher, who is an Adobe Day and Lavacon speaker as well as the CEO of Content Rules, to Powell’s just for a quick visit, so that a) we could say that we had been to Powells, even if it was just a brief visit, and b) to show us this neat machine that prints books for customers on the spot! It’s called the “Espresso Book Machine“, and it prints out digital publications that are in the Powell’s catalog, and will print the book for you right on the spot.

Powell’s Espresso Book Machine!

Yes, while you wait!  Marcia goes into more details about how it works, and how she is using it for pre-publication purposes of her upcoming book coming out in April 2013 called, Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them.  Read about how she’s doing this in her blog.

In the meantime, as one of the things Marcia posted on her blog, she shared a YouTube video of how Powell’s Espresso Book Machine (EBM) works. I think this is pretty cool:

Now…imagine writing the user manual for this gadget? That would be quite the interesting and exciting task, now wouldn’t it be?

Val Swisher and I at Powell’s!

Val and I both felt that if we had the chance to go back to Powell’s, we definitely would. Thanks for taking us, Marcia! This looks like a great tool, not only as a consumer (this way, we can find lots of great tech comm resources and have them specially printed for us), but also as creators, allowing us to print our content as needed. Print is not dead! It has gone digital in more than one way!

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Blast from the Past – Volume 1: The First American Technical Communicator?

Today’s entry from the TCGM grad school archives is from April 2010, when I was still a tech comm fledgling. Note the reference to Walter Issacson towards the end of the entry. His name might be more familiar to us now, as he is the official biographer of the late Steve Jobs, and whose book came out just after Jobs’ death last fall.  I have always been a history geek, so it was fun to try to make this connection back then (and I still stand by it!)

So what do you think…would ol’Ben here have been an m-learning advocate? Knowing his love of communication and technology, as well as his avid promotion of literacy and education, methinks he would’ve totally supported it!

Benjamin Franklin On a night when I finally felt mentally and physically exhausted enough to take a break, I found my husband channel surfing on TV. (Now that we have an HD-TV, he’s on it a lot more than he used to be.) Among the channels that he does like to watch– and I do too, is the History Channel in HD. Last night, I think the show was Modern Marvels, and they actually had the whole episode dedicated to the works of Benjamin Franklin. Now, I’ve always had a slight soft spot in my heart for Ben Franklin, ever since I was in about third grade, and read my first biography about him, and knowing that he had strong ties to Philadelphia, which is the city I most associated with when I was growing up (even though I lived halfway between New York and Philly, Philly has family and that was the “culture” I was oriented around.) This was recently revived with a trip to the Franklin Institute with my son.

Anyway, I didn’t catch the whole show, and of course, my husband would be channel surfing during commercials, but from what I was catching of the program, which was towards the end of the episode, they were talking about Franklin being ahead of time on many levels–which he was–and how he was a big player when it came to eighteenth century communication and science. We know that Franklin was the one who was a newspaper printer, a philosopher, a statesman, a politician, and a scientist. But the thing that ties all those other elements of this post-Renaissance man is that he was a writer. He was a prolific writer, in fact, writing everything from the contents of the Pennsylvania Gazette, to books about philosophy, and writing letters and documents that helped to form the United States and its diplomatic ties. He also opened up the first public library in the United States, specifically the Library Company of Philadelphia, whereby patrons could join for a small fee and share the books in the library, for the purpose of learning and being able to exchange ideas.

The  author Walter Issacson, who wrote a biography about Ben Franklin, was one of the commentators, and he was saying that if Ben Franklin lived in this day and age, he’d be loving it! With this being the digital age of email, computer communications, cell phones, Twitter, etc., Franklin would’ve been totally in his element, as he was all about the latest in science and communication, and for a guy in his time, he was on the cutting edge of such things. Part of a segment I saw talked about how Franklin was the first one to help devise the concept of watermarks and other security devices to protect the manufacturing of money, some of which are still used today.  It was also mentioned that if Franklin had a new way of doing something or a new invention, he always shared his ideas and how he did them, with the exception of this currency security printing method, understandably.  So, that makes me think that perhaps with all the cool inventions and discoveries he made, and considering that he was both a scientist AND a writer, that sharing that information made him the first American technical communicator.

What do you think? It’s a pretty good theory, anyway. 😉