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Seeing the future through Google Glass

April 30th, 2014 by Liam Alastair Crouse | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Seeing the future through Google Glass
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WP_20140306_0012‘The future is now!’ I’ve always found it good practice to begin blog posts with overused clichés.

‘Google Glass haters attack woman’ – well, not a cliché, but as titles of articles go, pretty catchy. Google Glass, which takes technology to a whole new level, has been met with both excitement and suspicion. One the one hand, the Glass comprises one cool (that’s ‘student speak’ for revolutionary) bit of technological synthesis. On the other, people are saying, sometimes rather facetiously: ‘Google? I’m sure they’ll make sure that none of this material turns up in the wrong place…’ Google? Aye, right.

But seriously, future, now. As part of my internship with HarperCollins UK (in Bishopbriggs), I managed to get into one of the Google Glass demonstrations recently. The Glasses are only currently available in the USA, and even then, they’re only trialling 10,000. HCP got a few over to the UK through their US branch.

There are a few glitches in them yet: they would respond to anyone speaking (not helpful if in a busy café or street); they couldn’t tell me how to get back to Rhode Island; and they really like taking pictures (I see what you did there, Google…). Taking a photo is so easy, in fact, it’s as easy as blinking. Actually, blink, and Google Glass will take a photo. Videos are just as stress-free – I’ll get back to that later.

They’re operated through finger swiping, voice commands, head tilting and a few other animations. They’ll perform a number of simple operations, such as searching Bing (just kidding, Google), video conference calls, translating – most of the things Google’s well known for. It even knew where the closest prison was (answer, just across the field!). Voice recognition was a bit trickier; they needed the token American (that’s me!) to say ‘share to Twitter’, as the Scottish accent hasn’t been programmed in yet. I’ll let that one slide, as they are only supposed to be dealing with the American twang just now.

The translation feature was mind-boggling. A co-worker brought in a piece of Spanish poetry and when we looked at it through the Glasses, the English translation was superimposed over the text – as if the Spanish wasn’t even there. Just keep in mind, the translation’s only as good as Google Translate is – so a bit lacking. But for travel and the like (I’m thinking menus and road signs), you’d do worse then walking around being able to read everything in a foreign country! Consider the ramifications for foreign rights sales for publishing if these were to catch on…

So, videos. You’re out in a club, doing silly things, and someone’s recording. People already do that with cameras/smartphones, right? Well, you can’t really tell if someone’s taking a photo or recording you with these. It’s a bit invasive on a few fronts. Due to a range of questions concerning privacy, spying, and surveillance (something which Google is really good at doing at a profit), they’ve already been banned in a number of locations (and they’re not even on the market yet!).

Furthermore, a lady was fined in the US for driving while operating Google Glasses. Although technically not against the law, the authorities finagled the rules to charge her with operating a TV/monitor while operating a motor vehicle. As well, in February, a woman was ‘attacked’ by ‘haters’ in San Francisco when she refused to remove her glasses (Telegraph, 26 Feb). So begins the revolution.

Or rather, in a few months (?), when they’re released at long last. They’re currently upwards of $1,500 a glass, but they’re estimated to retail around $600. Battery power only lasts around 2 hours just now, but I think that with the rapidity of technological evolution which drives these things, that might be sorted out soon. Who knows, at the end of this year, you may be buying a Google Glass add-on for your loved one’s prescriptions for Christmas.

 

Publishing Showcase 2014

April 24th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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We’re already nearing the end of classes for 2013-14!

Only a moment ago, our 2013-14 cohort of MLitt in Publishing Studies students were fresh-faced and eager to embark on their publishing studies.

Now, they may be a little more tired, and both excited and intimidated by the job search ahead, but more than anything they’re much more publishing savvy.

We’re celebrating their achievements on Monday 12 May by showcasing their work from the Publishing Project. There will also be invited guests from our Industry Advisory Board, and a selection of our PhD and MRes students speaking in a round table about publishing studies research.

You are welcome to join us to either or both parts of the afternoon – please let us know if you’d like to come so we have an idea of numbers.

3-4.15pm Round Table on Publishing Research (Chaired by Claire Squires, with Maxine Branagh, Paul Docherty, Carol Mango, Rachel Noorda, Anna Kiernan, Stevie Marsden and Louisa Preston). Pathfoot B2

4.30pm onwards Publishing Showcase and Drinks Reception. Pathfoot Crush Hall.

Martins the Printers

April 24th, 2014 by Aija | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Martins the Printers
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How are books made? If you ask a publishing student, you are in for an earful on the wading through a pile of slush in the hopes of discovering the next Hunger Games-trilogy or the next Booker Prize winner – something that stirs either financially or inspirationally. After that you will get an in-depth description of the editing and the decision-making processes all the way from typesetting, cover design to the final version. You might hear about the printing but the emphasis definitely is in the processes pre- and post-printing. That is what we know. That is what we can do. A publisher would not explain the whole printing process not as much for the lack of knowledge than for the fact of it being very mechanical and very distant form the publisher’s actual job. Therefore, the class of 2014 was in for a treat when we got to visit Martins the Printers at Berwick-upon-Tweed and get that rare glimpse to the inner workings of the printers.

David Martin, the sales director at Martins the Printers, kindly welcomed our group and gave us some history to the printers (printing since 1892 with newspapers and since 1950s they have focused on books) before unleashing us in two smaller groups to the belly of printers. Our guide Paul Waugh took us through each of the specific processes required in making a book, showing us the function of each machine and explaining in detail the time frames, the order in which each step is made and the differences between litho and digital publishing. As David and Paul both emphasised that is good for us young publishing hopefuls to know: the biggest differences that have come up through developments in printing is the effective cuts in costs; no more warehousing and the whole process is becoming faster and cheaper, enabling publishers to keep up with times and move their stock much easier – and this is definitely where the future of publishing is steadily moving towards.

The best way to show the process of printing is to visualise it through the snapshots taken through our tour.

Paul showing a printing plate

Printingplate2

 

First of all we went to see the creation of the printing plates, and how the printing plate is then entered into the machine that in the offset printing (economic way of producing large quanitites in one go) prints on the large sheets of paper before those sheets are taken to the next step.

Folding1

Printingplate3

 

The next step is the folding. The machine actually folds the large print sheets into correct combinations of pages and spreads. The man standing there then stags the fold onto a gurney, ready to be wheeled to the next step.

 

SownAfter the folding the pages are then sown together, the binding and glueing ready to be made. After sewing the covers get glued on and a version of the paperback is done.

 

The boys at the glueing machine were over-zealous in their testing, ripping Gluedcovers2covers and pages apart, destroying perfectly well-made ready books for the sake of testing. Heartwrenching. As seen in the above picture of tossed pages and covers of Tim Burton’s book. Never thought I could make such girly shrieks.

 

 

FinalisingThere is one more machine to be mentioned, besides the amazing hand-made Warmbookwork that follows each procedure to ensure perfection – and that is the “finaliser”. It is a machine that rounds the corners and compacts a hardback, to give it that book-look. There is nothing better than having that fresh-from-the-oven book in your hand, warm like a roll on  Sunday morning.

 

Definitely a tour every publisher needs to make regularly to keep up with the changes happening in the developemnts, and to understand the actual process of printing. It is a process to be appreciated and respected. It takes knowledge and skill and is an integral part of book making. Insightful.

 

IMG_20140213_144719

Our excursion ended with a long-awaited visit to Barter Books!