expect to hear similar phrases to this for least the next five years: “Digital is clearly the future, but print — in the right circumstances — can still thrive and help provide a bridge to an all-digital future,” quoted from Newsweek’s Printing Press Was a Top Draw for Diller, New York Times, November 12, 2010.
All-digital future? Hm. Haven’t we heard this sort of phrase before?
bAbylonians gave up clay tablets and Egyptians papyrus. Paper replaced velum and parchment. The printing press replaced the scriptorium. But these are all forms of what we would now think of as print media.
When the personal computer began to make its inroads into the office, soothsayers without number began to predict the rise of the “paperless office.” If you work in an office, you know this not to be true. Very likely, more paper is generated in any given office now than at any time before the introduction of office computers.
wHile the production of newsprint in the United States has declined from 13,41 million short tons (2000lb) in 1990 to 10.84 million short tons (Mst) in 2004, representing a 20% drop in consumption (US Department of Agriculture, 2005), the same article refers to the Daily Beast creating a print version in addition to its online presence. “Advertisers like to have a print representation of what they’re trying to say if it’s tied well and into this very fast-moving Internet publication,” says Barry Diller, owner of the Daily Beast. How many other online sites are going to create a printed equivalent?
The consumption of printing and writing papers in the US rose from 25.46 Mst to 32.67 Mst during the same period, presenting a 28% increase.
wHat meaning, then, does the phrase ”all-digital future” have? Is it simply a vapid marketing slogan, similar to “the Ultimate Driving Machine.” Funny, I thought the latter was a car. I didn’t know it was a machine.