The Future is with the Young
The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner
Aching limbs and mind, that nagging sense that it might be all over before it’s really begun, and a sense that the future is slipping beyond your control? These might possibly be symptoms of age, but they don’t just plague wrinklies. Young people suffering the stresses of modern digital life struggle too to keep up, keep relevant and keep confident. The graphic arts industry is fortunate that technology is making it easier for all of us to share the angst. More importantly, digital technology is spreading the communications habit, making print accessible and exciting for new generations. The future of print depends on how upcoming generations value and use it, and on how well they manage its environmental impact.
Fortunately from sharing selfies to downloading data sheets, information access and interactions, including printed pages are available to all. Even better, companies such as EFI and HP have developed digital printing models that make gorgeous hard copy print conveniently easy to get. Print’s available anywhere at the tap of a fingertip, but it is by no means certain that many people know this or more importantly how to do it. Cloud technologies such as PrintMe and ePrint give everyone the opportunity to share printed copies of all those selfies, should they choose. Making that choice automatic is the problem.
Getting mobile print models to work needs much more proactive engagement from industry. Print on demand ought to be as easy as websites on demand, which are a no brainer. Before the web was invented in 1990 the internet was still just a collection of open networking servers sharing data, mostly for academic and government communities. Once the web was in the public domain its use detonated all sorts of new communications channels, from blogging to social media. We need to trigger a similar explosion to encourage new online and mobile digital communications models that include print on demand.
People under 25 have grown up in a multichannel world and don’t distinguish across channels, caring only for immediacy and instant gratification. Like Buzzfeed, Twitter, digital billboards, streamed movies or television, print is just another channel. Youth are the future for the printing industry in all its guises, but they are also the future for ensuring sustainability and environmental impact management of all media. But first there needs to be awareness, not just of print’s environmental impact, but also of its accessibility and worth. That conversation has barely begun.
– Laurel Brunner
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