The Future of print is... Print

Print design on outer space

A positive look at the evolution of print and how change can offer different opportunities from Frank Romano.

While ink on paper may not last forever, there will always be something that needs printing.

Recently I stood before an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I pondered if they were the Dead CD-ROMs would they still be viewable after over a thousand years? Print can last almost forever. Try to find a vintage floppy disk reader from the 1990s.

The history of recorded media is the story in humanity’s quest for social interaction, knowledge, commerce, religious expression, and entertainment.

Print was the right medium at the right time – it helped to give us the Renaissance which formed the foundation for modern civilisation. Dominance by any technology or medium never lasts as we seek the better, the faster, and the less expensive. Today we can accomplish communication electronically by using a computer, mobile phone, or pad reader. The digital world has usurped large swaths of the analogue world.

But old technology does not always disappear. It returns in new forms; it finds new approaches and new markets. Print, the ultimate analogue communication, will prevail as we emphasise what makes it great and develop what will make it new. Some print products will be replaced by electronic alternatives. Some print products will be augmented by them. It is not a case of print or electronic; it is a case of print and electronic.

The internet has changed advertising models and trends in communication. When new media enter an arena, advertising budgets do not expand. Budget funds are spread among the new media and the old media. This occurred when radio and then television broadcasting entered the mix. In a world where advertising messages abound, print still has a beneficial calculus. I spend an inordinate amount of time deleting ads from my electronic communication, but even when I discard print, a message still registers on my psyche. Thank goodness we cannot click to delete print.

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