Why the Future of Digital IS Print – in Five Minutes

Posted on by Greg Cholmondeley | 1 Comment »

by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, PODi and Caslon & Company


DrewAppForum 2015 was awesome. The workshops, the vertical industry tracks, the workflow automation sessions, the best practices, the camaraderie, and the keynotes were all incredible. Let’s talk about one of those keynote presentations. Drew Davis, best-selling author of Brandscaping, gave a keynote address titled “The Future of Digital IS Print” and kept the audience riveted for a full hour. I’ll never capture everything he covered in a blog article, but I have jotted down some highlights and compiled a few key moments into a video so you can see the energy and passion of his delivery. It was impressive.

One of his key messages is that print is far from dead although we regularly see that message on blogs, on bumper stickers, on t-shirts, in magazines, and even in hard-cover books dedicated to the topic. But isn’t it entertaining that so many of those media are, in fact, printed? There’s a reason for this and Drew believes it is the reason why print is evolving rather than dying.

Think about it, electronic content dissemination is fast, cheap, easy and long-lasting because the Internet never forgets anything. But is it? While content does remain on the Internet and search engines can find just about anything – you really do have to search to find things. There is so much content constantly being generated that front-page stories disappear in a matter of hours or even minutes. Likewise, a lot of the content being pumped out every second is junk. In other words, “easy come – easy go.”

So how do you create longer-lasting, higher-quality content? Well, you compile, edit and print it. Print becomes a way to increase the value of digital content and to extend its shelf life. How about that for a mind-blowing idea?

To monetize this idea, printers and marketers need to invert their thinking from how to digitize printed content to how to print digital content. It really does seem backwards until you think about it. Let’s consider how we got here:

  • In ancient times (say 20 years ago) content was physically mocked up, plates were made, and newspapers, magazines, brochures and so forth were printed.
  • Advance a decade or so and the contents of those traditional, printed materials began to be digitally reformatted into websites and ebooks.
  • Advance further and you find that the contents all start out in digital format with many never even making it to print.

Many companies try to embrace strategies to create digital versions of their printed materials for smart phones, tablets and desktops. There are cases where that makes sense, but much of the time that strategy is backwards – after all, the content originated in digital form.

One idea Drew proposes is for printers and marketers to leverage digital media’s strengths in creation, rapid and inexpensive delivery, and archival and to leverage print media’s strengths in quality, impact and longevity. In other words, rather than trying to create digital versions of printed materials – focus on identifying high-value, digital-only content and migrating it to print. Filter, edit and enhance the best digital contents from authors, companies, associations, and others which are flowing past like a raging river and turn them into high-quality, valuable, printed materials.

Drew used a full hour to expand this concept, to provide examples of how people are already doing it, and to cover additional thoughts. Listening to him I am sure he could’ve continued for many more as well. I have no prayer of covering it all, or describing it as well, but I hope this overview and video vignette help convey some of his speech. He is an insightful, energetic and entertaining speaker with thought-provoking ideas who did a terrific job of kicking off our conference. I highly recommend considering what he has to say and to inviting him to speak at your event.

One Response to “Why the Future of Digital IS Print – in Five Minutes”

Comment from Ken Young
Time May 24, 2015 at 7:27 am

Greg, super blog. Wish you were still with Ricoh.

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