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ebook users input? 2013

I know most folks will want this book in its beautiful hardcover form, but many have also made the jump to ebooks. Whether you like browsing through a lovely "coffee table" book on your tablet or want a handy pocket version for your phone, I'm eager to hear about what devices and programs you'll want to use with The Art of the Shim.

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Posted on July 23, 2013 at 10:08 AM in Bibulo.us, Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

people over things 2013

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Posted on July 22, 2013 at 02:13 PM in Discardia | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is that a BEAR?! 2013

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Photo by Joe.

Mum Jinx writes:
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Posted on July 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling | Permalink | Comments (0)

Venues Amplify Vibes: Patterns for human-scale festivals 2013

I just published “Venues Amplify Vibes: Patterns for Human-Scale Festivals” on Medium.

[post archived here on MetaGrrrl.com as well, October 2015]

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Venues Amplify Vibes

Patterns for Human-Scale Festivals

Excellent events inspire their attendees, but some spark more creativity, contemplation, and connection than others. One way to achieve that is simply to have a larger number of people from which something special can emerge. However, when the goal of the hosts is to increase the odds of each attendee experiencing great outcomes—when, ideally, everyone comes away energized and enhanced—then increasing scale is counter-productive.

I have had the pleasure over this past year of being a part of two exceptionally good gatherings: the inaugural occurrences of XOXO, in September 2012, and YxYY, in July 2013. Both launched waves of enthusiasm and seem positioned to be looked back on as having been a key influence in subsequent creative projects and partnerships. Comparisons, for example, of YxYY to the SxSW festival in 2000 have been mentioned by many people with fond recollection of the connections formed at that earlier event and appreciation for the influence those connections had on the development of the Web and online culture.

Participating in all three of these events was a privilege, and I mean that in its multiple senses. One of the risks of small-scale events is exclusion. One of the best way to avoid that, surely, is to let a thousand flowers bloom. In hope that it will help more organizers of small-scale festivals bring their events to successful fruition, here are a few observations about helpful underlying patterns.

Embraceability
Limitation of event headcount helps avoid a sense of overwhelm. Make your event small enough that attendees can imagine it would be possible to meet everyone there, but don’t require them to do so. This mental ability to ‘get your arms around the group’ reduces attendees feeling isolated next to a faceless, massive crowd. The number 400 was chosen by both XOXO and YxYY and seems to work well for the count of core attendees. By the end of the event, many if not most faces should be at least familiar enough for eye contact and smiles—and all attendees should have enough shared connection from the event that it could be the opener to subsequent conversation.

Approachability
Foster an event culture of casual inclusiveness, explicitly inviting conversation between attendees. Encourage people to come up and talk with each other. Picnic tables are a strong emergent sub-pattern here; they are friendly and, because they accommodate more people than the natural groupings that usually start a conversation, they invite new participants. Another important sub-pattern for this is name tags which emphasize the first name (and perhaps only include that, as with YxYY’s brilliant swimming-pool-compatible temporary tattoo name tags).

Playfulness
Give and reinforce permission to break down barriers of inflexible behavior. Move a step beyond informality to friendliness, even silliness, and make sure your venue shares this wit. Make instructions playful and let what few rules you absolutely have to have be as cheerful as possible. Wherever possible eliminate things that make attendees feel they are ‘doing it wrong’.

Diversity
Create opportunities for attendees to engage differently with the event space and with each other. Have some activities and spaces which can accommodate everyone (e.g., XOXO’s presentations or YxYY’s prom), some which accommodate many (e.g., XOXO’s parties and tours or YxYY’s pools), and many which accommodate a few (e.g., tables, conversational seating, power strips, room at the edges for one-on-one talking). Ensure that different spaces have the opportunity to be different; allow for variation in noise level, lighting, temperature, etc. This kind of adaptability creates ‘ramps’ into challenging social interactions and it helps to foster connections between people who otherwise might not have talked. That person who on day one mustered the nerve to interact only one-on-one or in a very small group, can by the last day have built connections to support participation in the crowd—and the crowd will benefit from that new voice.

Proximity
Keep your event footprint small enough that wandering between spaces isn’t discouraged. Just as joining conversations should be encouraged, so too allow easy movement out of one cluster or activity into others. The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, where YxYY was held, is an ideal example of being large enough for very different simultaneous activities (e.g., DJ’d music at the main pool while unscheduled talks took place in—yes, in—the smaller pool next to the Commune room, which was accommodating a Settlers of Cataan tournament and crafting tables, all of which were surrounded by smaller conversations and solo time on their edges).

Connected Separation
This goes hand in hand with diversity and proximity; some activities, particularly conversations where intense connection and creativity is happening, benefit from pulling back from the main flow of the action. The ideal venue supports this while still encouraging participants to reconnect and share afterwards. Again, the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs had some ideal sub-patterns for this, one of my favorites of which was the rooms with private patios allowing partial retreat while still being exposed to the ambient sounds of the shared spaces. At XOXO, the coffee bar area developed some of this function for people mentally recharging; I noticed people occasionally sitting alone with laptops or books on the outside deck where the sound of the presentation space upstairs could drift down. A silent ‘chill room’, as at YxYY, offers explicit support for retreat and restoration, which can be vital for introverts at social events and which helps to keep those attendees able to bring their perspective to your festival.

Expansiveness
All of this helps to make the event valuable and foster connection between its participants. To make it exceptional, though, it needs to tacitly inspire taking all these ideas and contacts further. Choose an event site that expands to the world around it. The high ceilings and tall windows of the XOXO presentation hall and YxYY’s openness to the sky and mountains of Palm Springs created a constant sense of unconstrained space and opportunity. It may sound silly, but make sure your attendees have room for their big thoughts to grow above them. This also means not over-scheduling; allow gaps around activities for ideas to stretch out, whether in conversations or solo thinking.

Permeability
Along with that expansiveness, blur the edges. Don’t block conversations that extend beyond the event. Have a hashtag so that those not at the event can still get a sense of it and respond through Twitter, Flickr, and similar sharing sites. Link to blog posts by the participants. Celebrate your attendees’ inspiration. Encourage ongoing discussion about the event by continuing to share these reactions and event-sparked creations through the official festival channels even after the event is over.

Obviously, my thoughts here owe a big thanks to A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein. If you don’t own a copy of this mighty tome, I encourage you to get one and just keep it around, dipping into it randomly as well as gradually reading through it from the beginning. It is, like these festivals, a mind-expander. Unlike them, it can be engaged with slowly, over years, and will still reward whatever time you choose to give it.

I also thank the creators of Medium for building such an excellent space for human-scale conversation about a set of ideas.

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 11:38 AM in creativity, tools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kelly's amazing cocktail photography 2013

Here are a few samples of Kelly's amazing cocktail photography!

The Sophia Loren Shim is an original drink from Kim Rosselle at Oakland's Flora. The Sherry Cobbler is an old classic, but this beautiful example was served up by Craig Lane at Bar Agricole in San Francisco. The Antique Sour is an original from John Codd of 15 Romolo in San Francisco.

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Posted on July 17, 2013 at 05:00 AM in Bibulo.us | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bookstore Launch Party 2013

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Posted on July 16, 2013 at 03:24 PM in Bibulo.us, Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Booksellers can also pre-order now 2013

Booksellers can also pre-order now through Ingram Distributors, the world's biggest book distributor (which means you, dear reader, can almost certainly pre-order through your favorite bookstore!)

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Posted on July 16, 2013 at 02:29 PM in Bibulo.us, Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Now available for pre-order on Amazon, The Art of the Shim 2013

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Posted on July 16, 2013 at 02:27 PM in Bibulo.us, Books, writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

How long will that dreaded chore actually take? 2013

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Posted on July 9, 2013 at 04:53 PM in Discardia | Permalink | Comments (0)

Createspace? Lightning Source? Where to self-publish? 2013

I weighed in on this independent publishers discussion with the following comment:

This is good advice and matches what I learned with my first book, Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff.

Buy your own ISBN from Bowker (or, realistically, a group of 10 if you're also doing ebooks so you also have ISBNs for the EPUB and Kindle editions).

Sign up for Createspace and use them for their excellent prices on proof copies (also handy for creating review and Goodreads giveaway copies). Get your book looking great and prepare to build buzz. Do not use Createspace's Extended Distribution.

Sign up for Lightning Source (LSI) with the final version of your book now that you've done some proofing passes with cheaper copies from Createspace. Use LSI for reaching libraries and booksellers. Resign yourself to not making much money per copy through LSI and set the discount low enough that a bookseller will consider ordering from you. Bear in mind that LSI and Ingram or Baker & Taylor are both taking a cut out of that discount and that the bookseller also needs to cover their costs and make their profit in that slice. Once you add it up it's easy to see why booksellers aren't likely to even do special orders for something that's only got a 25% discount, especially if it's non-returnable.

Offer the Kindle version through Amazon's KDP program.

Offer EPUB versions through Apple's iTunes Connect and either (or both) Barnes & Noble's Nook Press and Google's Google Play. (Note: I have not yet published through the latter, but it is an alternative to the (in my experience) very low-selling Nook/BN.com world. If you want to reach a broader audience, it's important to have a non-Kindle, non-iTunes way for people to buy your EPUB edition, particularly if part of your audience prefers DRM-free books.


My second book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, is full of great photography and, while the color print-on-demand (POD) quality from both Createspace and LSI was very much better than I expected, it's not yet "coffee-table book quality" and my partner and I have decided to use offset press printing. We still used Createspace for proof and review copies.

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM in tools, writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Troubleshooting InDesign to EPUB Table of Contents export 2013

If you are, like I was, getting the error message "TOC entry has incorrect nesting level" when you try to export from InDesign to EPUB, try this.

This seems to be an error in the hierarchy of TOC style levels and probably means you've got a lower level item listed before the higher level of which it is a sub-part. For example, I seemed to have a style I called "section headline" coming up before any of my "Part"s or "Chapter"s. So how to find it?

First, you need to know which style is causing the issue. I created a new TOC style called "EPUB TOC troubleshoot" and one-by-one added in the TOC styles I wanted to include from the highest level down, exporting to EPUB after each one until I got the error message.

Once you know which style is nested incorrectly, now you need to hunt down where it's out of the hierarchy. In InDesign CS6, go to Edit > Find/Change (or hit command or control F). Use the little icon beside the 'Find What' box to set it to look for Wildcards > Any Character. Us the little icon beside the 'Find Format' box to set it to look for Style Options > Paragraph Styles > [whatever your offending style seems to be].

You know what mine was? The section headline on the print version's table of contents page. Ha! I created a new style from that named "section headline TOC" so that it would be separated from the rest of the section headlines in the book which I wanted to use for my EPUB TOC and then, hooray! I exported without an error. Phew.

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 05:52 PM in tools, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech, writing | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sometimes what seemed like a skill game turns out to be a money game. 2013

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Posted on July 3, 2013 at 06:35 PM in Discardia, games, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

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