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A Year of Ideas

Is it preferable to read long format content on a screen or on the printed page? This is a question that I think we’re going to be wrestling with as a culture for some time to come. In the meantime our tendency is probably to do much of our day-to-day reading online (I’ve seen plenty of posts lately declaring all kinds of ridiculous things to the tune of “I don’t read books anymore, therefore books must be dead”), though I know there are still plenty of people holding out for actual books. I read quite a bit, both online and in books. In fact, I often bookmark articles that I know I’d be more likely to read if they were in print than I am with them on a screen. This is particularly true of longer content (much of it written by my favorite publications like The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and WIRED). So, after reading a post by Emmet Connolly, I began collecting those longer articles and creating printed anthologies of them on The one pictured above is my third, which I just printed last week. This time, I kept a bookmarks folder of articles that I felt represented the most important ideas I’d encountered in 2009- so I called it “A Year of Ideas.”

Until I get seduced by the perfect reading device, I’m pretty convinced that there is untapped power and potential in print-on-demand (for example, check out the Espresso Book Machine. Russell Davies, the person who, believe it or not, first exposed me to the idea of print-on-demand, says it perfectly:

My favourite example is this: Things I Word Rather Read On Paper. Is it combines what the web does well; publishing, gathering, discovering and curating content (via instapaper) with what print does well; being readable, durable and portable.

As I read that, I realized I should probably put together a post that outlines my process of gathering, discovering and curating content- it’s a fairly complicated one when you take into account all the various channels for finding, experiencing and sharing information. But, it is one way of being a human synthesizer– a necessary discipline for people in our industry. For now, though, I wanted to again share the printed side of it- particularly because I’m in awe of how good of a job does. I submitted my files and had my book within several days; the quality of the book itself is very, very good.

The image below shows an interior spread of my “A Year of Ideas” book, which includes an image by Lauris Paulus and an article titled The Street as Platform by Dan Hill. (Lauris and Dan, don’t worry, I’m not selling this book. It’s just for me.)

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Here are the other two books I’ve created using The book on the left was the first one I created last March. The book on the right is the second one I created shortly after in April:

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