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

Friday, March 24, 2006

Xerox have started up a blog for IPEX

They even have a link to this blog. Definitely a breakthrough.

I can't work out how to post a new topic yet but comments can be added.

They also link to Andrew Tribute's blog page. Still nothing there. Maybe some of his writing will turn up on the Xerox blog instead.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Can't find any blog by Andrew Tribute yet. He used to do one and another special for Drupa. Nothing on the main site or where the blog used to be.

This makes things more difficult for other bloggers. It was possible just to lift his words and add some form of agreement.

However, there is a quote as part of the agenda for a Xerox open forum at IPEX -

"The health of graphic communications companies today is dependent on many factors in addition to ink on paper, such as declining marketing budgets and the growth of integrated communications vehicles," said noted industry analyst Andrew Tribute, president of Attributes Associates. "It is critical that IPEX attendees take the larger economic and business environment into account and apply the lessons they will learn from this must-see event."

You know something? Maybe he has got a point.

"integrated communications vehicles"
what is that all about?
I am thinking about two articles for OhmyNews around IPEX, one as it starts and one towards the end. Adobe is still the most interesting stand although there is almost no information about it so far. In 2002 I did a story on the Acrobat Services website about Adobe reducing their space. As far as I know they have not really had a stand either at IPEX 2002 or the most recent Drupa. It is possible they have taken space this time as there is something to announce.

Whether this is so or not, I think Adobe is a useful reference point to show the context in which the print industry is operating. Sometimes it seems that hard copy is no longer interesting for Adobe. It seems to me that most energy is now concentrating on Flash ( see story in OhmyNews ). Maybe one pressure is that the original pre-press functionality around PDF is now available from a variety of suppliers. The PDF-X standards really are open in the sense that there is a choice in how to create them. Adobe have some good pre-press features in Acrobat 7 but it is not their main business and other suppliers update more frequently and offer dedicated and consistent service.

I am still puzzled as to how the 'classic publishing' business unit is supposed to work from India. Do they have a marketing budget? How will this be spent? will they be at IPEX? ( see my story at IP3 )

From the few clues available it seems that the Creative Suite will be a feature. Adobe is now divided into business units with a clearly defined customer focus in each case. Sometimes the paper aspect seems to have gone from the Creative Suite view of things. Flash for the mobile phone appears to be much more interesting.

Still today I found a statement by Shantanu Narayen on the occasion of John Loiacono being appointed as senior vice president, Creative Solutions.

"As we build out the Adobe Engagement Platform, centered around PDF and Flash, our creative products ensure that the content our customers produce will look its best, whether its on the printed page, an interactive web site or a mobile phone."

At least the printed page is in there somewhere.

Meanwhile it is still Quark where there is most promotion for creating JDF from the desktop. The 'jobjackets' are another name for JDF files as far as I can see. Long ago I though of JDF as similar to PDF in that it allowed someone with a persoanl computer to create a job bag as well as a page description. Now it seems that someone else sets up constraints through a job jacket so that the Quark page is created as expected. The control and responsibility is getting complicated. Presumably a print customer and a service provider can communicate to set up a suitable system.

Things are not well explained. At Drupa Adobe seemed to be very tentative about JDF in Acrobat 7 and there was little information on how this would work with InDesign.

Reviewing QuarkXpress 7 in Image Reports, Simon Eccles wrote "the virtually automatic implementation of JDF is streets ahead of Adobe, which has no equivalent in inDesign, just a badly explained ability to generate and attach JDF Job Tickets via Acrobat." so things have now got any better.

Unfortunately there are still some issues with QuarkXpress 7. Nessan Cleary wrote in Print and Paper Monthly "In theory, the Job Jackets are an excellent idea, but an idea that has been so poorly thought out and the interface very badly executed that it is enormously confusing."

So JDF is possible from the desktop, but not obvious. The second article towards the end of IPEX is intended to have some better explanation on this.

Writing in Printweek (16 March) Lawrence Wallis seems to see "e-trade" (interaction and communication) as a different topic to production automation which is where JDF comes in. I still think it is possible for JDF to be part of what the print customer is aware of. They will expect to be able to load a PDF directly to a website and to write a blog or comment. JDF is just another XML open source application so it need not be a mystery. This is actually fairly urgent for print in general as the web offer is getting easier to use.

By the way,
Print and Paper Forum, JDF topic

Monday, March 20, 2006

I may have reached a limit on what can be said through contributions to Guardian Talk and 'Comment is Free'. The immediate problem is a lack of feedback on circulation numbers for the 'digital editions'. It could be that by working more on this blog I could get more attention and some answers from other sources.

I have contributed to Talk topics on OhmyNews and the PDF versions of the Guardian.

And another thing. The Guardian still seems to be ambiguous in support for 'citizen journalism', reader feedback etc. Inside the Media jobs section today is hidden a section on 'Changing Media', ahead of a conference. It includes some opinion about 'citizen journalism' sharing characteristics with the Beast of Bodmin Moor. "It's out there...but so far nobody's seen much of it."

Neil McIntosh later states as fact that the international edition of Ohmynews "has had less success" than the base in Korea. Full disclosure, as Jeff Jarvis would say, I am a contributor to the English language OhmyNews and I consider it a great success for what interests me. It probably only has a few hundred citizen journalists, not tens of thousands, but it has a global balance that I don't find elesewhere. There may be more journalism students than might be expected from a random sample of citizens, but this also results in a discussion on web media that is remarkably informed.

It was recently announced that Softbank, a Tokyo-based technology and Internet investment firm, will invest $11 million in OhmyNews through a new international company. Some of the investment will be used for TV in Korea, some for a site in Japan using the same approach for 'citizen journalism'. The aim is to reach 40,000 contributors, the same number as in Korea. Following this investment, Softbank will own 12.95 percent of OhmyNews.

So my guess is that the next international phase will concentrate on Japan but there will still be more to say about the English language version.

Tempted to steal several thousand words from Martin Jacques at this point, but here is a link instead.

One thing I like about OhmyNews is that my reports end up on Google News as well. I have previously written reports for Acrobat Services websites, UK and .com , but these are mostly ignored by the US search engines. PlanetPDF and PDFzone are the best sources, they get interviews as well. Another problem is that less than 20% of the people visiting the UK site are from the UK, even though there is a front page suggesting the .com site instead.

Following the forum last year, OhmyNews published my story about the print aspects of online publishing. Both WikiNews and OhmyNews actually still use hard copy on occasions.

My main story on the UK Acrobat Services site has been about the 'digital editions' of UK newspapers. The ABC did issue rules for including information on the main certificates. But no UK newspaper has 'opted in'. My guess is that the numbers are still fairly small. And there still seems to be a block on publicising the existence of PDF and JPEG as a route to photography and illustration. Maybe they think that if nobody knows about this then the print will survive. I fear the actual consequence will be more websites like the current ones, based on text surrounded by Flash adverts. The option of subscription income for better content may not be working but it is not really tried out either in terms of promotion.

And now some direct quotes from the main Media pages. Kim Fletcher explains why proper journalists, the kind used to print, are worried about the idea of 'integration'. He appears to think that Rupert Murdoch cannot wite his own speeches and then speculates on which bits were written by a journalist. Not this, for example - "As long as news organisations create must-read, must-have content, and deliver it in the medium that suits the reader, they will endure." Personally I can't see a problem in understanding what this means.

Fletcher is also disturbed by a quote from a source at the Telegraph.

"We are now doing everything we can to take our content and well-respected brand into any distribution mechanism there is. We are the most successful newspaper podcasting organisation going. We must now embrace a state of perpetual change."

Fletcher comments

"No wonder journalists at the group are getting nervous. Managements need to be clear about where they are going and how they intend to get there."

So in the great mix of fact and comment, it is posible that this management clarity will come first and then circulation numbers will come later that allow a business model to be constructed. Meanwhile most of the writing about news organisations is completely missing the point, though great to read of course.

Over the next month or so I will be concentrating on IPEX and the print industry. I think the print media are a large part of this.

Before the London Book Fair there was an article in the Guardian Saturday Review objecting to Google Books and making content available online. See previous post. As I reported on OhmyNews, at the actual event the Google stand was busy and there was no sign of support for a boycott. A fortnight later the Bookseller summary reported that Taylor and Francis are now ok with Google Books as there is now a payment option.

My guess is that IPEX may follow a related pattern. Some objection to online, some exploration of how online supports print, and evaluation sometime later.