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    Russell Viers is a Transition Expert in the publishing world. Since 1997 he has helped newspapers and magazines adapt to changes in the industry. Read more...

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  • Archive for May, 2011

    Twister Twitter beats traditional media!

    Thursday, May 26th, 2011

    The text message from my daughter was only one word long: “Tornadoes!!”

    I read it as I left the stage from a morning presentation at the Print & ePublishing Conference in Washington, DC. During the lunch break I headed to my hotel room.

    I immediately called her and the lines weren’t connecting…text was all I had. I asked what was going on. After a stressful text exchange I learned my boys had ridden their bikes to school, which would let out at 11:30, during a Tornado Warning for that part of Kansas City. She was sitting in front of the school in her car to pick them up since it was raining…but they weren’t there.

    She was scared.

    I was scared.

    Between texts I was trying to get a handle on the situation through traditional media. I went to kansascity.com (the website of the Kansas City Star). They had a story about tornadoes in the area, but nothing recent enough. Tornadoes move quickly and in this situation I wanted to know what was happening “Now!”

    I went to the television station websites hoping for current information…nope.

    Just then I received a broadcast text from the school informing me the teachers and students were in the Tornado Shelter at the school. I texted my daughter of the boys’ status and told her to go inside and join them. She replied “idk. I have texted them a thousand times.”

    I replied “THEY ARE IN A TORNADO SHELTER IN THE SCHOOL. GO INSIDE NOW!!” I screamed at my daughter with my thumbs.

    This is where the shift in my brain happened. This is when, for the first time in my life, I realized I could not rely on traditional media. I turned to Twitter.

    Launching twitter.com I did a search for kansas city tornado. Immediately I was seeing tweets of sightings and the neighborhoods. I learned how close these beasts were to three of my children. Every MINUTE I was getting new information. There were hundreds of reporters all over the city giving me the information I needed, while the traditional media’s stories were just getting older and more out of date.

    I’m not new to the concepts of Twitter and it’s impact on the world. I followed the peaceful revolution in Egypt, much of it reported through Twitter. I followed Tweets from Libya as reporters and citizens were risking their lives to get the word out. I thought it was fascinating how the attack on Osama Bin Laden’s compound was being reported through Tweets, even though the “reporter” didn’t know what was going on.

    What I’m writing here isn’t anything new…just the first time it got this personal and I truly felt the impact of this new media.

    A lot was going on in a short period of time…texts, following twitter, trying to find more on TV or websites. Through it all it was the texting and the Twitter that kept me up to date.

    In the end, all was fine. No harm to anyone or any property, but two lessons were learned: Social media CAN outperform what traditional media currently offers with immediate information, but it comes with a very high price tag: Nobody is filtering before it reaches the end user.

    I thought it was interesting how there was an alert that read “TURN UP YOUR TELEVISIONS AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE AND SEEK SHELTER IN YOUR BASEMENT…ETC!” As I read this I was thinking “GRAB YOUR SMART PHONE, FOLLOW TWITTER AND HEAD TO YOUR BASEMENT…ETC!”

    So why is traditional media like television in a storm still relevant? Because not everyone has smart phones, or WIFI or laptops to take with them to a shelter. Today, we still need traditional media for a percentage of the audience…but that will change.

    Aside from the above instance, yesterday traditional media failed hugely meeting my needs as a member of it’s audience.

    Are we willing to pay the price? As I was reading the Tweets about the storm, there was one that popped up and read something like “Massive destruction in the storm’s path all across Kansas City” or something to that effect. It didn’t sound right. It didn’t fit. All of the other Tweets were mentioning where and what, but nothing quite as apocalyptic as this Tweet made it out to be. I had to filter it. Throw it away. Recognize it was just a bored Tweeter trying to, we’ll just say, play a prank.

    Can everyone do this? Remember the old story of War of the Worlds read by Orson Wells and supposedly there were people who believed it and starting packing up. It was radio. It was a book. But it was Orson Wells, and he really can spin a good yarn, but aside from that it was something that people couldn’t filter truth from fiction.

    Apply this logic to social media and you see how dangerous it can be.

    A good friend of mine, Kris Coppieters, was telling the story last night about how in Christ Church, New Zealand, after the recent earthquake, local police were verifying Tweets. According to him, police were following the Tweets and would act on the information. If it was true, they would reply with “verified.”

    Think about this for a second. The role of the media in the past has been to gather, filter and deliver the news…all the news that’s fit to print, anyway. How dramatically has that changed in some instances, like I’m describing here. The citizens are reporting the “news” and the police are filtering it. Wow! Exciting in this example, could be very scary in others.

    For two years I’ve been asking newspapers “who is going to reinvent the newspaper business?” The challenge is to us, as an industry, to reinvent ourselves. At least yesterday, however, the newspaper industry was reinvented by a social media tool.

    QUESTION: Do you have a personal example of where Social Media has served you in ways Traditional Media can’t? What was it and can you give an example of where you had to filter through the message and authenticate instead of trusting verbatim?

    Print Separations from InDesign CS5 and Snow Leopard

    Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

    DISCLAIMER: By giving this information, I am in no way endorsing this type of behavior and don’t want to be labeled as an “enabler.” If anyone asks where you learned how to do this, just say “This guy I know in Poughkeepsie.”

    The question came up again today, this time from my buddy Jimmy Hines in Houston, TX: “Russell, using InDesign, can I export to PDF and get color separated files? Some of my printers only take color separated PDFS (process and spot), and the latest MAC OS no longer supports printing to PDF.”

    No. Nope. Can’t.

    You can Print and Distill a separated PDF from InDesign, however, and that’s probably what you are really asking since you NEVER could export a separated PDF from InDesign.

    With Snow Leopard and CS5 some of the rules have changed. In short, the Adobe PDF Printer is no longer an option in your apps. If it is, it’s a dirty lying trick and it doesn’t work correctly.

    So what do you do if your printer insists on separated PDFs? Tell them to get with the times by either buying newer equipment or learning how to use what they have correctly. The other option is to switch to a printer who doesn’t drive an AMC Matador to work while listening to 8-track tapes.

    Why am I so harsh? Printers have been able to print separations from Acrobat from version…um…six (don’t quote me on that, but it’s been a long time). Which means you can give them a composite PDF and they can control the color separations on their end. So if they are still asking for separated PDFs, they are either using older versions, didn’t know they could do that or [advance to next paragraph].

    Some printers have workflows where PDFs are simply dropped in a hot folder and it zips through the RIP to output. If this is the case, they must not have an output device that can handle in-RIP separations. Printers in the room, help me on this…name some RIPs that cannot separate as part of the imaging process.

    “Why NOT send a separated PDF, Mr. Smarty Pants?” you might be asking me. Well, you can’t impose it, can’t edit it in Acrobat, it’s been flattened, doesn’t have metadata in the images and other good reasons not to.

    AND NOW FOR A COMMERCIAL BREAK: I just finished a video titled “11 Things Every Newspapers Should Know About PDFs” and you can buy your copy here from Video2Brain.

    All that aside, let’s pretend that you absolutely, positively HAVE to create a separated PDF from InDesign on Snow Leopard…you CAN!

    You need to do a couple of things first.

    Step One: Go get a [insert favorite beverage here, unless it's alcohol and you're driving while reading this on your smart phone]

    Step Two: Download an unzip this PostScript Printer PPD, which you can do right here at this link I’ve cleverly titled: Click here to download the PostScript Printer PPD.

    Step Three: In the Adobe InDesign application folder, in the Presets folder, create a folder named PPDs. Exactly that…not PPD Stuff I need, not My Cute Little PPDs not even PPDelish…just PPDs.

    Step Four: Put the PPD file you just downloaded in that folder.

    Step Five: Restart InDesign.

    AND NOW FOR ANOTHER COMMERCIAL BREAK: I just finished a video titled “11 Things Every Newspapers Should Know About PDFs” and you can buy your copy here from Video2Brain.

    Step Six: When you go to print your document, you can choose the PostScript file as your printer and choose RTI RIP-Kit v3 as your PPD. For the record, you can use any PPD for a postscript device that allows custom page sizes, this is just one I had handy. See dramatic graphic below.

    Step Seven: Now you can go to the Output tab of the Print Window and change Composite CMYK to Separations and then do whatever custom settings your Printer as asked of you.

    Another reason I don’t recommend separated PDFs is because of all the controls the Printer has put in Your hands. Not that you can’t handle it, but it’s YOUR responsibility to know screen angle, line screen, etc. I just think you lose flexibility when working with a printer with multiple presses, various paper types or maybe you want to send a PDF that’s going to be printed in multiple locations. If so, separated is going to be problematic.

    Let me know if this helps. But remember…I’m not encouraging this type of shenanigans.

    AND NOW FOR A FINAL COMMERCIAL BREAK: I just finished a video titled “11 Things Every Newspapers Should Know About PDFs” and you can buy your copy here from Video2Brain.