My first taste of publishing came in high school as I labored each month to get the school newspaper out. I realized I liked the “putting together” part much more than the “interviewing people” part. I believe I was also the person to suggest just laying out the whole page in PageMaker rather than setting the type in PageMaker, printing it out in columns, cutting out the columns with xacto knives, waxing the columns, and sticking them to pasteboards. Revolutionary!
In college I started in the computer science program, really didn’t like it, then switched to the rhetoric program. Along the way I had classes in typography and something called desktop publishing, where we learned to lay out whole pages in PageMaker rather than setting the type in columns . . . well, you know.
I got a summer job as a TeX typesetter at a smallish development house and that was pretty much it. After graduation, I returned and proceeded to learn all about FrameMaker, Quark, and PDF, which have been useful, as well as film processing, proofmaking, and stripping, which hasn’t been to the extent you’d think. I got really good at opaquing though, and will put my skill at filling in little pinholes with a black pen against anyone’s.
After I learned how to use all the software and equipment, I branched out into production coordination and learned the project management aspect of the business. A job opened up at a much larger publishing company and I was accepted, probably based on my winning attitude and stylish haircut.
That was way back in ’97, and ever since I’ve been along for the ride as technology has redefined how publishing works. I went from book production coordinator to “tech” production coordinator (i.e. cassette labels, various boxes and sleeves–diskette stickers and the like). As our tech products got more complex, I got more involved with getting content developed for print to work on CDs and the internet.
Then they invented XML.
Ever since I’ve been working on various projects that have tried to somehow use XML to make our products, make them better, make them less expensive to make, and try not to make a mess of them in the process.
We’ve had some failures along the way, but eventually developed a pretty fancy content creation and management system that does some very handy things. We’re currently working on the next generation system, which will someday, if we do it right, do lots more handy things.
One fun work thing: I was in that Six Sigma program with Mike, where we learned so many interesting things and ate so many interesting meals. We’ll never forget that magical week in January staying in a hotel overlooking the Woodfield IKEA. Remember the scene in Fargo where Jerry trudges to his frozen car after being turned down for a loan by his father-in-law? And he freaks out with the ice scraper? That’s what the scenery looked like, and that’s how we felt.
On the home front, I’m in year 6 of an unending renovation of a 1913 brick two-flat (I can strip film AND doors). I’m an avid reader and now thanks to this blog, a sometimes writer. I collect exotic liquors from around the world, and was the first on my block to import absinthe. I’m also the only one on my block who likes absinthe, turns out. I’m also something of a packrat, and have a swell collection of LPs, 8-tracks and 78s. If you don’t know what that means, imagine that everything on your iPod came in a separate box, and imagine where you’d store it all.