Twitter Press

Some have said that the World Wide Web is a modern day Gutenberg press. Unfortunately for humanity, however, this new revolution has diluted credible content in a sea of trolls, wing-nuts, ego, and the uninformed. The words "fit for print" have lost their meaning and as a result, people today live in a world where only the truly dedicated have the time or inclination to read an entire well constructed, thought through, or factually backed document. Our society needs something new, something smaller, something that creates documents of 140 characters or less and simultaneously syndicates that message across a network of peers.

TL;DR? We need Twitter Press.

What are you going to make?

A Twitter Press (a jovial twist on the Gutenberg press).

What will it do?

The Twitter Press will only have room for 140 characters. Once the user is finished typesetting their message, covering it in ink, and actually "pressing," they will have a beautiful physical copy of whatever they wrote. However, they will ALSO have sent their message into cyberspace. The trick is that the press is aware of what has been typeset, and each time a print is made it tweets out the message on behalf of the publisher! Old media, meet new media.

How will you make it?

This project has three core components: the press, the type, and the twittering.

The Press - I'm going to do my best to have the look and feel of this device match the traditional press design. This means that I'll be using the Shop Bot and / or the waterjet cutter to carve out the parts. The actual construction is going to involve good old fashioned nails and screws.

The Type - I would like to make the typeface using some type of metal rather than wood so that it has a better chance of lasting. I'm honestly not sure the best way to go about this but I can only assume it will involve the waterjet. In order to have a digital readout of the printed message I'll also need to incorporate some sort of electrical component to each letter. I imagine each one to have a very small milled chip inside of it.

The Twittering - I will be designing and milling out a primary circuit to drive the tweeting at the press level. I'm not an electrical engineer but my naive approach is to create a typesetting board with 140 "slots" for letters and create the type so that each letter provided a different amount of resistance. This would hopefully allow the MC to parse out the message. I would then need to communicate with some type of networked device (either directly via serial, or over wireless?) which would then issue out the tweet.

What are the materials, components, and systems?

The materials list is up for debate and will change as I learn new techniques, but for now...

What questions will need to be resolved

I'm not worried about the physical construction of the press since that part of it has some degree of precedent. The big questions for me are all in the electrical portions. How can I detect which letters are where? How do I build a board with the capacity to communicate with Twitter? How am I going to keep the Ink from ruining the circuits?

What is the schedule?

What is the budget?

Item Cost Qty Total
6" Threaded Rod (93420A710) $36 1 $36
.25" x 2" x 24" Sheet of Iron (8928K15) $48.57 1 $48.57
23/32" x 4' x 8' Sheathing Board $23.97 2 $47.94
Circuit Materials $40 ? $40
Nails/Screws/Glue $25 ? $25