Is the ‘printernet’ a useful idea?
By Michael Josefowicz on March 25th, 2009
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing with the notion that a good way to think about the global print industry is using the word “printernet” to capture what might be going on.
Yesterday, I got a chance to test it out in a more public venue in a column at PBS.org/mediashift. The title, chosen by the editor, is ‘Printernet’ Vision Brings Custom Print Publications to Masses”
The general tenor over there is that Print is Dead, newspapers have to go online, and other internet bedazzled visions of the future of journalism. I’m posting here in the hope of getting some feedback from my esteemed colleagues in Print, where I don’t have to take a defensive stance proving that the sky is not falling and print is not dead.
From a PR point of view the notion is “Now that the internet is in place, the printernet is ready to emerge.’ That’s for the kids in school to get them to be excited about Print.
From the professional point of view,”. . . this so-called “printernet” can have the same benefits as the Internet — massive parallel manufacturing with standards-based interfaces, real time production information and easy access for everyone. Each printer — the combination of the machinery and the intelligence that manages the machinery — is a print output node.”
My hypothesis is that one of the things that has kept us from seeing the emerging role for Print, is that we’ve been using old thought models that don’t capture a new environment. The facts on the ground are that the Eurocentric era of the global economy is coming to close and that new value in the form of previously impossible customer experiences are enabled by the network, not by stand alone printing companies.
While I was researching the column I came across pediapress.com in Germany. They’ve released Open Source software to automatically go from wikipedia pages to PDF,ODF, and XML. They are monetizing their invention by selling Wikipedia Printed books through their website. Just recently they’ve expanded from German to the other major European languages.
I think wikis have become the platform of choice for organizing content on the web. PBwiki.com, a start-up, says they are doing enterprise content management for over 200,000 businesses and 100’s of thousands of schools. Meanwhile, Newspapers and physical communities are organizing their content in wikis.
Given that my focus is high school education in the States, I think I’m seeing textbooks being replaced by WikiBooks and WikiNewspapers. The new experience will be cheaper, faster and much more effective in getting students to learn to love to learn.
I keep turning it over and over, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.