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“On Margins,” or, if you prefer, “OMG Nairns!”

On Margins

Talking about making books with good people who make great books

It’s probably unnecessary, and I don’t know what I’m doing, but here’s a new podcast for you.¹

As I say in Episode 001:

I’ve been working on and with books for over 15 years; as a designer, a publisher, a producer, and an author, and what I’ve realized over time is that the margins of a great book run deep. The more I’ve worked on my own books, the more I’ve come to realize that the white space and untold stories behind how and why a book is made are not only compelling but essential, and it’s within those margins that I want to spend some time.

Some, come on, let’s talk about margins.

On the first episode I blab with researcher and designer Jan Chipchase, founder of Studio D, and most recently, author and publisher of an incredible, astounding, kick-you-in-the-teeth new book about engaging with the world, decoding culture, and being a respectful and insightful traveller, The Field Study Handbook.

The Field Study Handbook

On Margins is the result of a coffee in February (2017) with Jan, so I’m grateful to him for instigating this little venture.

Upon minor reflection, I realized I knew a lot of good people that make great books. And I often have long conversations with them about the making of those books. This podcast is a tiny formalization of those conversations.

Listen in and subscribe over here.


¹ Good pitch, right? Until a few weeks ago I had never so much as even dipped a toe into the podcast world. So you can understand my surprise when I realized everything is held together with duct tape and perl scripts! I mean, it’s delightful — the rather ramshackle universe of services and websites that help pod-people make and share casted pods — but it also reminds me distinctly of web design in 2001: Lots of technical nitty gritty disconnected from content production.

I realize this keeps things “open,” but many of the services recommended to me by serious podites look like they haven’t been updated in a decade. Confusing UI, awkward UX, discombobulated editing of metadata (confusion over what’s the correct way to structure the metadata). Even the world of in-browser html media players with support for transcripts is mildly wackadoodle. I ended up having to learn about gulp and node and npm packages to get one working in a way that felt correct. And then the transcripts themselves — another weird world of services that feel built entirely by engineers with no design input.

Open as pod-world may be, it seems as if Apple’s iTunes directory is the gatekeeper of all pod-keepers, the one non-Apple directories slurp from. And so, even in the end, although the casting is distributed, and technically “ownable” on an individual level, it all seems quite wrapped up and beholden to the whims of the Apple Castle.

Lots of duct tape, some funky scripts, a cron job or two, and maybe, just maybe, out pops a podcast. (Why Apple hasn’t straight-up owned the making and publishing of podcasts is a question for folks more dedicated to the medium than I.)

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