Sparks of Fire Press Blog

Sparks of Fire Holiday Special!

bookMailingShot

Between now and the end of the year, when you buy the first copy at full price, you can add additional copies at only $15 (foreign $28). Half off! You also get a free gift of a Sparks of Fire Press “Artistic License” (for every book ordered) sent in a mail art envelope. Now you’ll never be without the permission you need to let your creative juices exceed culturally-imposed limits. You’ll be LICENSED! Order your copies here.

artisticLicense

Gareth Appears on Leo’s Laporte’s Triangulation Show

This Monday, I was on Leo’s Laporte’s Triangulation show on the TWiT network, talking about Borg Like Me. I really had a fun time. I’ve been on Leo’s various programs for probably 15 years and always have a great time. This is my favorite to date.

“An Evening with Gareth Branwyn,” at Salon Contra in DC, Next Monday

Join me next Monday, Sept 22, for a special Pink Line Project “Salon Contra” event.

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contraLogoAn Evening with Gareth Branwyn
Monday, September 22
6:30-8pm
@Pink Line Project HQ (details provided after RSVP)

Author and cyberculture pioneer, Gareth Branwyn, will be here to talk about his new book, Borg Like Me & Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems. If you’ve already been to one of Gareth’s DC readings, this will be slightly different, more interactive and conversational. Gareth will share stories around the book and his very colorful life, read a few passages, and he says he’s going to perform a magick ritual. Seriously. He’ll also have books for sale. RSVP here: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Hope to see you there!

Borg Like Me Page-Through

I did a short video with my friend, videographer Rob Parrish, of me paging through the Sparks of Fire Press edition of Borg Like Me (with the bookplate, mini bookmark, and mail art envelope). This should give you a better idea of how lovely it is inside.

What Others Are Saying About Borg Like Me

From Media People:

“Borg Like Me is fantastic!” – RU Sirius (countercultural iconoclast and Mondo 2000 founder

“Amazing.” – Mark Frauenfelder (Boing Boing founder)

“A treasure trove of alternative thought and lifestyle.” – JC Gonzo, The End of Being

“Gareth Branwyn is an authentic human being, the kind that inspires people like me to take heart and leap into the void.” -conceptual artist and alt.culture blogger Red Cell

“”[Your] book…represents an important infusion of authentic spirit into conversations around technology and culture…Also, a great time capsule of the Weird Wide Web and its antecedent impulses. Borg Like Me is a song of hope.” – Casey Rae, Future of Music Coalition

“If it wasn’t for your early writing… I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to do what I’m doing.” –Tom Igoe (co-creator of the Arduino microcontroller and beloved NYU/TISCH professor)

“To meet the true hands-on cyberpunks, the true proto-hackers, the true frontiersmen of the tech that transformed the world…read Borg like Me.” – John Shirley (the man that William Gibson called cyberpunk Patient Zero)

“In his writing, Gareth balances the edge between subjective experience and objective journalism, so “Borg Like Me” is not promoting a technological message of salvation. It offers to the reader new points of view on past and present events in counter-/cyber-/culture, without attempting to explain the entire online universe and in well-written, easy-to-understand essays, that serve as gateways into the wondrous world of the cultural diversity in our time.” – Creative cyberculturalist” Simone Ines Lackerbauer

From Readers

“Gareth’s career exploring the fringes of the developing online world makes him an ideal guide to the possibilities and hazards of interconnected culture. It would be difficult to find an influential corner of the growing networked world that he wasn’t involved in. His insight and experience give him a unique perspective that comes through in these articles. A great read. -Ross Hershberger

“You’ll be hooked by his honesty and gathered in by this amazing personal adventure that is part history/part love story, filled with keen insights (even with suggested music to listen to while reading), and stories about the early days of the internet. This man writes for you and to you. And yes, you will love it. -Christie R. Uhler

“Borg Like Me is an impressive piece of work — at once a fascinating time capsule and current memoir. It reads easily and with a consistent sense of humor, but Gareth’s sincerity and depth of feeling permeate every one of the essays. There’s a lot in here to ponder about a life well-lived, what that means, and how that’s built.

While many of the zines, blogs, and multimedia projects that Gareth participated in during the 90s are rightly seen as foundation works for the early Internet, the level to which he and his compatriots shaped our current online culture is not often sufficiently acknowledged. There is little boasting here, but a number of good stories that make you realize more clearly where we’ve come from.

Even though this book and my Kindle are stacked on top of each other by the bed, and I usually prefer the one-handed laziness of the ebook, Borg Like Me demanded to be read in paper form. Perhaps it’s the zines talking.” – Jonathan D. Sousa

“The artwork is perfect. For ALL of the stories. I love that it’s so multi-sensorial, even with songs to enhance your reading experience — the art, words, FEELINGS. Beautiful. You over-achieving ass!” – Kelly Hughes

Read it and let me know what YOU think!

I Did a Reddit Ask Me Anything

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On Thursday, I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, talking about some of the subjects covered in Borg Like Me. There’s one question asked (and my answer):

Question: In the book The End of Absence, author Michael Harris points out that we are the last generation alive that remembers before the InterWebNet was born. I’m no Luddite, I may be online too much since my health forced me to quit my very physical work. I find it harder and harder not to want love and reinforcement from my social media “friends”. The 56K ping of a modem dialing still makes me smile. As a borg and jacked-in to the world as you are, how do you cut those wires, now invisible? Is it even possible?

Answer: You know, as someone who’s been such a breathless cheerleader of all this virtuality, I’m started to become annoyed with certain aspects of it — like the constant desire for “thumby” validation on FB, the endless selfies, and endless kitty-cat videos, pop culture memes, etc. I think, in many ways, the maker movement is a reaction to such overwhelming virtuality — going back to getting our hands dirty.

I think we’re going to need to learn to be far more digitally self-disciplined, to have unplugged days. I’ve been thinking about taking off from socmedia every other day, as an experiment. It’s staggering to think the amount of lost productivity to socmedia and online frivolity and self-absorption.

When my son was in grade school, they had a media literacy class, to teach kids how to be critical of media, advertising, internet content, etc. I think we need a similar thing for online presence/digital self-discipline: how to effectively manage your usage, how to parse socmedia content and weed out the growing satire/hoax content, how to balance online and offline human connections, and so forth. I think Doug Rushkoff is onto something with his recent book, Present Shock.

Read the entire discussion here.

Why Order Direct from Sparks of Fire Press?

bookMailingShot

When you order the print edition directly from me, you get some extra goodies that you don’t get through Amazon (or anywhere else). First off, you get the beautiful letterpress-printed bookplate designed by Blake Maloof (my son and the resident artist at SoFP). The plate is tipped into the book and autographed. You also get a mini-bookmark featuring excerpts from the artwork in the book and it all comes inside a swanky enveloped embellished with custom rubber stamps that Blake and I designed. We like the idea of doing a very personalized mailing and we hope you enjoy the effort put into it.

Borg Like Me: The Soundtrack

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In Borg Like Me, I have a series of “Immersive Media Notes,” with suggestions for music to play while you’re reading the essays (or before/after). I’ve created a Borg Like Me soundtrack on Spotify which includes all of the songs mentioned in the book.

You can access it here.

Press Resources

Please help me get the word out on Borg Like Me. Since this is a crowdfunded/self-published project, all of the PR rests on me. I’d be ever so grateful if you’d help me spread the word. Tell your friends about the book, buy copies to hand out, send my press materials to anyone you think might be interested in covering it, share links of your blog or social media.

Front Cover (high res)

Back Cover (high res)

Author reading two essays from the book:

Chapter Zero: The Launch Party (http://youtu.be/teZd9tIv4Pk)

Tears in the Rain (http://youtu.be/nYaXEcxCan4)

Published excerpts:

Borg Like Me (title essay on Boing Boing)
boingboing.net/2014/07/10/borg-like-me.html

A VCR Was Harmed in the Making of This Article (on MAKE)
makezine.com/2014/08/26/borg-like-me-an-excerpt-about-perseverance/

Tweet Line:
Read Borg Like Me, @garethb2’s smart, passionate, intense trip along the bleeding edges of art, tech, and culture. http://amzn.to/1maeU2t

What others are saying:

“Borg Like Me is a song of hope.” – Casey Rae, Future of Music Coalition

“Borg Like Me is fantastic!” – RU Sirius (countercultural iconoclast and Mondo 2000 founder)

“Amazing” – Mark Frauenfelder – (Boing Boing founder)

“If it wasn’t for your early writing… I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to do the stuff I’m doing.” -Tom Igoe (co-creator of the Arduino microcontroller and beloved NYU/TISCH professor)

Download the full press release

Announcing the “Hard Launch” of Borg Like Me

We consider the July release of Borg Like Me to be a soft launch, designed to fulfill all of the Kickstarter backer rewards and to work out all of the bugs for order fulfillment. Now that all of that is sorted out and fall is upon us, it’s time to launch this baby with as much powder as we can pack into the motor tubes. Here is the release that’s going out to the press.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept 2, 2014, Arlington, VA –Sparks of Fire Press is pleased to announce the release of Borg Like Me & Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems, a best-of collection and “poor man’s memoir” from cyberculture pioneer and maker movement midwife, Gareth Branwyn. This heavily-illustrated, beautifully-produced volume chronicles Branwyn’s personal and professional journey, from his coming of age in a commune, to his involvement in the 90s “zine scene” (desktop published small mags), to his tenure at such influential cyber arts/culture rags such as Mondo 2000, bOING bOING, Wired, and his eight years at MAKE, spearheading the growing maker movement.

Previously published material is woven throughout with Branwyn’s unabashedly honest commentary, personal anecdotes, and original essays. Read about the smart-druggies behind Mondo 2000, impersonating Billy Idol in cyberspace (for Billy Idol), the making of the iconic early 90s hypermedia book, Beyond Cyberpunk! (hailed by MacWeek as “revolutionary”), and essays on the growth of the maker movement and Gareth’s elected “maker saints.”

Borg Like Me was crowdfunded (via a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign), self-published, and is being printed on demand. Nearly two dozen noted artists contributed existing and original drawings, photos, and sculptural objects to illustrate the book. These contributors range from comic book well-knowns Shannon Wheeler, Danny Hellman, and John Bergin, to fine artists Terri Weifenbach and James Huckenpahler, to iconic found-object artists Jeremy Mayer, Greg Brotheron, and Nemo Gould. Even Mark Frauenfelder (Boing Boing founder and former editor at Wired and MAKE) contributed artwork (as well as the book’s touching foreword). Borg Like Me contains 33 illustrations in all.

Borg Like Me is a smart, personal, and passionate trip along the bleeding edges of art, technology, and culture at the turn of the 21st century.

Handy Resources:

Front Cover Hi-Res: http://sparksoffirepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/BLM_ProductShot_Frontb.png
Back Cover Hi-Res: http://sparksoffirepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/BLM_ProductShot_Back.png

Author reading two essays from the book:
Chapter Zero: The Launch Party (http://youtu.be/teZd9tIv4Pk)
Tears in the Rain (http://youtu.be/nYaXEcxCan4)

Published excerpts:
Borg Like Me (title essay on Boing Boing) boingboing.net/2014/07/10/borg-like-me.html
A VCR Was Harmed in the Making of This Article (on MAKE) makezine.com/2014/08/26/borg-like-me-an-excerpt-about-perseverance/

Tweet Line:
Read Borg Like Me, @garethb2’s smart, passionate, intense trip along the bleeding edges of art, tech, and culture. http://amzn.to/1maeU2t

What others are saying:

“Borg Like Me is a song of hope.” – Casey Rae, Future of Music Coalition

“Borg Like Me is fantastic!” – RU Sirius (countercultural iconoclast and Mondo 2000 founder)

“Amazing” – Mark Frauenfelder – (Boing Boing founder)

“If it wasn’t for your early writing… I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to do what I’m doing.” -Tom Igoe (co-creator of the Arduino microcontroller and beloved NYU/TISCH professor)

For more information:

703-615-7341, email hidden; JavaScript is required, sparksoffirepress.com

Borg Like Me & Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems
Gareth Branwyn
List Price: $29.95
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Sparks of Fire Press (Sept 2, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0692233237, ISBN-13: 978-0692233238
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches , Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

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