The next print disruption

 A thought exercise. What if we were to reverse the trend, no longer seeing print as a soon-to-be-extinct species but, instead, as the next disruption, an evolution of digital? Yes, what if digital was the legacy medium, and print a newly emerging platform - how would the transition to print media from our screens, tablets and mobiles feel?

Well, it would feel like a peculiar novelty. Let’s consider/imagine some of the ensuing characteristics:

 - Finite. I am with Nicholas Carr in his view of filters intensifying the information overload, not mitigating it. And that’s perhaps the biggest problem with digital content delivery - a sense of completion, and thus satisfaction, is elusive. Psychologically this is totally overwhelming. So one of print’s core advantages is in being able to offer a defined beginning and an end. This, I bet, will be the sort of peace of mind that we will be increasingly prepared to pay for.

- Educational. Eli Pariser’s great TED talk presented the concept of “filter bubbles” - the notion that news and search customization are dangerously lowering our scope for learning in areas that we are not interested in, but might otherwise be important. A fully curated newspaper with quality editorial input is a solution. Going one step further, publishers could also experiment with prioritising the sort of articles that are more conducive to reading in print - they would be longer, with emphasis on analysis and opinion.

 - Intimate. Reading a newspaper on an airplane, or with coffee in the morning, has a different experience texture than catching up with news online. Whereas we are now speeding ahead to experience commoditization at every opportunity, a newspaper experience is a welcome respite. This might be exactly why vinyl sales - almost inexplicably - are on the rise.

- Premium. Perhaps most importantly, product is seen as aspirational, something close to the Veblen good effect kicks in - increased purchase preference in direct relationship to price.  Juan Senor has, for some time, been suggesting to view print as a fully capable premium format in its own right, not some sort a stepping stone to a digital eventuality.

So what of this?

Simply that it might be useful for legacy publishers to consider what they are really good at, what the actual unique selling points of print are. Truth is, some content propositions and experiences are best served in print, so the challenge is to start seeing print in a new light - attempting to capture the real value of the format.

  1. mediarender posted this
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