Have you noticed that people who shout, “Print’s not dead!” tend to be printers or those who make their living off of print? It’s not a coincidence. Fighting for your livelihood is practical. And noble.
But recently we read online about a Google executive – that’s Google, as in major online search engine – who said during a presentation that he fears a pending “digital Dark Age.”
Vint Cerf, Vice President & Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, spoke at a recent meeting held by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he warned the audience of a pending “digital Dark Age.”
As hardware and software become obsolete, we stand to lose our digital information, especially our most precious content – the personal photos and written memories we hold near and dear. Technology advances, we push our stuff high up into the clouds, and when the day comes when new technology can’t support our own (and our old) computer systems, cameras and smartphones, well, be prepared to kiss that content goodbye.
It is a not-terribly-subtle reminder that old-fashioned printed “stuff” has value over time. Print isn’t dependent on systems or any specific technology. Months, years, and decades from now anyone will be able to pick up and read a printed book, flip through a newspaper, and sit down with a box of family pictures and pass the time in silent reverie.
Now, to be perfectly honest, Mr. Cerf (a ‘father of the internet’) wasn’t suggesting that we all start producing only analog communications, that we print off all of our photographs, or that we live in daily fear of a digital sky falling on our heads.
He suggested we develop new technologies that would enable us “to take a snapshot of the content and the application and the operating system together, with a description of the machine that it runs on, and preserve that for long periods of time. And that digital snapshot will recreate the past in the future.” It makes such sense.
But this concept is a reminder of the lasting power of print: a tangible and oh-so-tactile medium.
Print lets you be more memorable for longer. Evites to your corporate or personal events are convenient and may be less expensive than printed invitations and other event notices. But they’re cold and impersonal. They get “lost in the sauce” of all the other hundreds of emails your list of recipients get day after day. They tend to lack in the pizzazz department.
Beautiful print gets saved and shared and displayed. It could be a glossy, full-color piece with a built-in pURL (personalized URL). Or it could be an elegant letterpress invitation with stunning typography and the finest of luxurious, cotton paper. Or you might produce a multi-piece event marketing campaign using scented inks, dimensional inks, or other specialty finishes like embossing/debossing, die cutting, foil stamping, engraving, or thermography.
Eye-catching print can be dimensional. 3D dimensional mail can lead to greater ROI than flat mail. When did you ever not open a box or tube or other type of dimensional mail that arrived with your name on it? It may cost more per piece to produce and mail a 3D campaign, but dimensional mail is impossible to overlook when delivered.
Compelling print materials invite you to linger over them. Whether you’re mailing a corporate brochure, a magazine, a catalog, or a newsletter, your piece should be so well designed and produced that it invites recipients to relax and take their time while perusing it…at their own pace. The portability of print makes it uber convenient.
These are but a few of the special qualities of print. The recent comments by Google’s Cerf reminds all of us about the possible danger of entrusting all of our content to digital archives forever and ever.
Analog communications have remarkable staying power. Free of technological constraints, and not dependent on this or that digital platform, print abides.
Author: Steve Friar