Two Years Before The Mast: Print’s Position vis-à-vis the + Sign

By | January 11, 2016


Two Years Before the Mast is a memoir by the American author Richard Henry Dana, Jr., published in 1840, having been written after a two-year sea voyage from Boston to California on a merchant ship starting in 1834.

The expression “before the mast” is little known today, lost like the ghost Flying Dutchman. It means thusly:

Before the mast – Literally, the position of the crew whose living quarters on board a ship were in the forecastle (the section of a ship forward of the foremast). The term is also used more generally to describe seamen as compared with officers, in phrases such as “he sailed before the mast.”

Two years gone now, since as New Year’s Day 2014, an Australian print industry association executive observed about the decline in some forms of traditional print in the ANZAC region, “It’s not Print OR Digital, It’s Print + Digital.”

Bright bloke.

But might it not also be OK, if it is Digital + Print?  Does position matter? Can print still thrive before the mast?

On 17 December 2015 Layar, the Augmented Reality platform for Image Recognition-based interactive printed matter, posted a delightful saga of scathingly brilliant trans-Atlantic cooperation, between the destination marketing agency Miles, and the Sarasota, Florida tourism folks, and of all things, the iconic London taxicab.

The blog post closed with this observation from the executive charged with the project:

“We believe traditional media is an important part of a marketing strategy, not as the primary messenger, but more as a tool to drive visitors to the digital marketing components,” said Neal Alfano, Creative Director for Miles. (Emphasis supplied.)

In other words Digital + Print.

And let’s be honest, pride of placement annoys us print evangelists.  And we are tilting at evanescent windmills, because it matters not a whit if we are before the mast or behind it, before the + sign or after it, we are still in the media mixology and that is all that counts.

And as we read the Taxicab tale we see that printed wraps for the cab exteriors were needed, and so were printed promotional posters to be placed thru out London.  Print may not be primary, but it is necessary and as we have long espoused, print is the essential launch pad to a richly immersive multi-media experience.

Oh, and by the way, the Print Protagonists believe that  Interactive Print where the magic is ‘in the print’ is the best path forward for printing company leaders around the globe.  We fervently believe that using a solution that requires print to trigger the magic by virtue of the print itself and not an image uploaded to the cloud, is the smart way to retain print’s relevance.

But we are also pragmatists – if you can find a print supporter even amongst those who state that print is not the primary messenger, then who cares about whether we are before or after the plus sign?  Miles supports “Print +”: Print 101: Tips for Top Travel Guides & Brochures and Print Has Its Place

Tiffany Azzara of Miles says it well:

“For me, print is inspirational, and the web is informational.”

Spot on.

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