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The Balancing Book

Clarke County native introduces a new kind of social media

Jake Oswald of Osceola, left, and Adam Parker Goldberg of Cedar Rapids pose for a photo with their product, The Balancing Book. The Balancing Book is a journal intended to be left in a public space by its original owner, and each person who finds it is to write one entry in the book. Once the final entry has been written, the book is to be mailed back to its original owner. Both Oswald and Parker Goldberg are recent graduates of Iowa State University.
Jake Oswald of Osceola, left, and Adam Parker Goldberg of Cedar Rapids pose for a photo with their product, The Balancing Book. The Balancing Book is a journal intended to be left in a public space by its original owner, and each person who finds it is to write one entry in the book. Once the final entry has been written, the book is to be mailed back to its original owner. Both Oswald and Parker Goldberg are recent graduates of Iowa State University.

In a world dominated by social media, two recent college graduates that came together to connect the world offline.

The Balancing Book was invented by two Iowa State University graduates, Jake Oswald, 23, of Osceola, and Adam Parker Goldberg, 22, of Cedar Rapids.

Parker Goldberg earned his degree in industrial design from ISU in May. Oswald earned his degree in landscape architecture from ISU in May.

The Balancing Book, the first product from Oswald’s company Our Anthology LLC, is a journal with one corner cut off, allowing the book to stand, or balance, on its lower right corner.

The original author, or owner of the book, will write one entry and leave the book balancing in a busy place or business for the next person to find. It can make its way around the globe, all depending on where the next person places it.

“Our world is big, diverse and increasingly disconnected from itself. Our differences separate us, but our stories have the power to bridge the gap. The Balancing Book is the tool we’ve designed to build the bridges; to turn strangers into friends,” said Oswald.

After someone finds the book and writes their story in it, they can go to a social media site of their choice and post about The Balancing Book and include the book’s hashtag. Authors will be able to track their book’s journey on social media sites by searching their book’s individual hashtag.

When the book has made its way through the hands of more than 40 people, the final contributor is to mail the book, using a prepaid envelope that comes with the book, back to the original author, allowing whoever purchased the book to see the journey it had been on.

“What I bring to our partnership is an industrial design education – a focus on products, processes, and services – and experience working for a young startup on the creative user engagement team,” said Parker Goldberg.

The two had been friends throughout college, members of the same fraternity. Oswald had the concept for The Balancing Book first, but wanted Parker Goldberg to work on the project with him.

“He was exploring a few concepts and began to realize a great potential around the idea of a journal that would be shared by multiple people. In a few texts, Jake had indicated that he wanted to chat soon about some stuff he was working on, but our schedules kept conflicting. Around midnight on July 9, we both got on the phone and Jake pitched his concept. I was immediately captivated and excited to join him on the project,” said Parker Goldberg.

The project does not have a definite release date yet because it has to be fully funded first. Oswald is pursuing this project through Kickstarter.

“Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that removes all risk for the entrepreneurs and the supporters,” said Oswald.

Through kickstarter, anyone who wants to participate in The Balancing Book can help fund the project. If the project doesn’t meet the amount required to be fully funded, no one is charged.

Backers will only be charged the amount they chose to put toward the project, either by way of donation or book purchase, if The Balancing Book is fully funded by Friday, Nov. 10.

“On our Kickstarter campaign, one of the rewards is titled ‘The Portmaster.’ This reward is for businesses who would like to become an official Port,” said Oswald.

Any business can choose to be a Port, a place for people to launch or find The Balancing Book. To become a Portmaster, a business must pledge $270. If the project gets fully funded, the business will be added to the list of Ports, advertising the business as a Port, and their books will be mailed to them.

The first business to pledge enough to be considered a Port was That One Cupcake Place in Cedar Rapids.

To pledge money and get The Balancing Book fully funded before the deadline of Friday, Nov. 10 go to www.OurAnthology.com and click claim my book. Pledges can range from as little as $7 to $1,000 or more.

If the project is fully funded by Nov. 10, books will be delivered to their authors in December.

Parker Goldberg works at the edtech startup company Flipgrid on the user engagement and creative strategy team in Minneapolis. He plans to work on other projects in the future either with Oswald or alone.

“I recently joked with my family that you always need to have some kind of side hustle. I’m fortunate to work at an innovative and supportive company that not only allows, but encourages that I pursue the kind of side hustle opportunities a friend pitches to you around midnight,” said Parker Goldberg.

Oswald is the Director of Marketing at Pritchard Companies in Minneapolis. He plans to continue work through Our Anthology by getting projects funded on Kickstarter.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam and I give it another shot with a different idea someday. There’s a lot we’ve learned the hard way in the last few months that would be useful for another campaign,” said Oswald.

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