Starting with IPEX 2002, this blog covers events relevant for UK print, including Seybold and DRUPA. See also website at

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I thought I had posted this on Thursday, but can't find it at the moment.
I am moving around this week and next. There will be a gap inIPEX when I am backin Exeter Friday 7th, so if this gets more muddled there may be some sorting out then.


Reading the Guardian, looking for links to print. It is still the case that they don't write much about the print technology on which most of their publishing depends. But they do explain the context in which print has to operate. The Technology section today includes an interview with Eben Moglen, a lawyer working on an updated version of the General Public Licence (GPL) , used by free or open software such as Linux.

A new version is required now because of the transition to embedded software in digital devices. As envisaged by Moglen, "In the year 2006, the home is some real estate with appliances in it. In 2016, the home will be a digital entertainment and data processing network with real estate wrapped around it. The basic question then is: Who has the keys to your home? You or the people who deliver movies and pizza? The world they are thinking about is a world in which they have the keys to your home because the computers that constitute [your home's] entertainment and data processing network work for them, rather than for you."

Interviewer Glyn Moody explains that manufacturers of embedded systems have a strong incentive to play along, quoting Moglen: "What they want is a very robust, highly debugged, completely stable, omni-competent, zero dollars per unit software platform for agile manufacture of devices in the future." Only one meets all those requirements: GNU/Linux.

These digital devices with embedded software may include some form of book or means of reading text. There is talk about improved display described as e-paper. Interest in sound and video seems to be more immediate, however. Maybe a dedicated book equivalent will be rare though sound and video devices will be able to show pages as well, if only for a manual or instructions.

The discussion around 'web 2.0' seems to follow some of the expectations people have from the world of free and open source software. Sites such as Google or Amazon are included as examples of Web 2.0 although they are commercial in effect. There is an offer of free information that is available through interactivity. The result is personalised to an enquiry at enough speed to appear immediate.

Maybe print will never approach this, but the areas of most interest seem to be those that come close. The 'In the Balance' blog set up by Xerox for IPEX has so far looked at variable data printing and short runs of books as an example of digital printing.
Gail Nickel-Kailing, editor-in-chief, Graphic Communications World, has written about 'books on demand' and makes a claim about new forms of desktop production -"I’m waiting for the day when I can get one of those 3-D printers to put on my desk and 'print' all kinds of handy dandy gadgets. Won’t be long now!" More immediately and sticking to books, Jim Hamilton from InfoTrends qutes from a Wired article by Chris Anderson on the 'Long Tail', suggesting publishers concentrate on the backlist as much as a few hits. "It's clear to me that the 'Long Tail' thesis is applicable not only to on-demand books but also to web-to-print collaterals. is very much in the 'Long Tail' camp with their focus on selection. I'd be interested in knowing what others think about this theory and its application to printed material."

During the next couple of weeks there could be other examples of how print is seen in a web context.

And CIP4 will feature as a leading case study in open source.

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