Probably walking on a mountain … http://craigmod.com
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“Koya Bound” in production in Saitama, Japan

A walk in the woods with Craig Mod

The latest episode of On Margins is up: A walk in the woods with … me. During my solo Kumano Kodo walk in April of this year (2018), I recorded a few things including the intro to On Margins 004 (Elena Favilli) and this episode, 006:

(Subscribe on iTunes, Overcast, or Google Play.)

Episode 006 is an experiment in capturing the walk and talk — I recorded it as I was walking down the Kohechi route from Koyasan to Hongu. …


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Jason Kottke has been distilling his brain into kottke.org for twenty years; what would that look like printed out?

On Margins episode 005 is up, featuring Jason Kottke, the creator of now 20 year old kottke.org. You can listen to the episode or read the full transcript here: https://craigmod.com/onmargins/005/.

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I thought of Jason because I was thinking about non-“book” collections of text that could or should be books. I think there are many web properties that would benefit from being given immutable form, especially in the face of how brittle online archives tend to be.

JASON: Specifically with the book, one of the titles I’ve always had in the back of my mind is, “The Kottke Almanac,” because the site is so eclectic. …


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Small tweaks to incentivize engaging with a book’s content.

I’ve been using Kindles on and off ever since they launched. Our relationship has been contentious but I’ve always been seduced or re-seduced by their potential. At their best, they are beautiful devices. At their worst, infuriating. They are always so close to being better than they are.

Initially they didn’t have touch screens, but Kindle.app on iOS did. The iOS app worked in its own funny way: adopting its own interaction model. An analog to that model found its way to hardware Kindles. I think this was a mistake.

What is the iOS Kindle interaction model? The iOS Kindle model is the “hidden spaces” model. That is, all active interface elements are invisible. This “hidden spaces” model of interaction is supremely user antagonistic. …


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Kevin Kelly, Rajahstan, India, ~1975

On Margins ep. 003: Asia Grace — Photographing Asia in the 1970s

In the latest episode of On Margins (iTunes, Google Play), Kevin Kelly and I discuss traveling around and photographing Asia in the 1970s with just a Nikkormat and a canvas backpack filled with Kodachrome. In 2002, Kevin turned his tens of thousands of images from those travels into the Taschen published book, Asia Grace (Amazon link).

Kevin is most commonly known for his books and essays on technology, for being a founding member of Wired Magazine, and for being part of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand. But I know Kevin mostly as a guy who likes walking.

Together, Kevin and I have walked along parts of the old Nakasendo, the 88 Temples of Shikoku, and the Kumano Kodo ancient pilgrimage route. …


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On the making “Koya Bound”: A book of photographs from the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage walk in Japan

When making a book, I find it’s useful to walk on the book. To peek over it and look for patterns, shuffle pages, grouping and ungrouping the loose sheets. Walls work too — a book can be made on a wall. But floors are easier. And there’s something joyful about the tip-toe dance you do across a room when it is filled by a book.

I spend most of my time writing and brainstorming books with others. Photographer Dan Rubin and I had long discussed making a book together. …


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

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 feedback loop between our work and the objects around us

When Robert Frank finally sat down to divine his seminal photography book, The Americans, he had to sift through more than 28,000 images.

In Frank’s vast collection were snapshots of an America that had rarely before been caught on film: snaps of Manhattan cowboys sitting atop garbage cans, snaps of suspendered men in straw hats chatting in a courthouse square, snaps of teenagers making out on picnic cloths, snaps of a segregated trolley in New Orleans, snaps of a lone elevator-operator girl from within the elevator. Technically thematic between these snaps was the feeling that they were, indeed, snaps. …


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Three tips for making the touch bar a little less painful

I didn’t want the touch bar, but there it is, glowing above my keyboard. The only way to get the fastest MacBook Pro, with the biggest harddrive, and the most ports is to also get the touch bar. So let’s learn to live with it.

It’s fascinating that Apple has pitched the touch bar as a pro feature. I’ve personally found it to have no value[0]— it’s far simpler (and more “pro”) to learn the keyboard shortcuts for common commands than shift focus down, find a button (that doesn’t feel like a button), and then shift focus back up to the screen. And navigation, for example, by tiny-scrubbing in Photos.app, …


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Surprisingly great, nearly perfect travel sandals

I’ve never owned Tivas nor Keens (I just don’t vibe with the look of either), but I have owned Chaco sandals, which are like wearing SUVs on your feet. I’ve hiked to glaciers in Tibet, all over Vietnam, and through parts of Nepal with my Chacos. They’re wonderful and wonderfully made, but boy are they heavy.

About a year ago I went looking for the equivalent of Chacos in rugged spirit, but with the weight of a flip-flop. I found them: They’re called Luna.

Luna sandals are a design marvel. They’re made with soft, strong, premium-quality nylon straps, reinforced with little patches of leather where it counts, and thin but grippy Vibram soles. Originally inspired by the footwear of Mexican ultra long distance running tribes, Lunas are a fully modernized version of those handmade sandals. …


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A calendar can only be drawn next to a freshly made macchiato

Tips for mapping your life

Sometime in the fall of last year I began to draw my calendar.

My weeks were packed with a series of interlocking jobs and I couldn’t keep them straight. Tiny calendars on my computer weren’t cutting it. I needed something tangible — I needed a calendar-as-artifact.

The drawn calendar is not for minutiae, but for overview, for the ability to both understand the rhythm of coming weeks at a glance, and for the pleasure of ticking off time.[1]

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There are three ingredients to the drawn calendar:

  1. An off-white unruled notebook [2]
  2. A 0.5mm Copic MULTILINER SP Waterproof black pen
  3. C2 (light Cool Grey), C3 (medium Cool Grey), and R27 (Cadmium red) Copic Sketch…

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