The More Things Change…

“Humans are incredible,” writes Sacks (or as we know him around here, BoSacks) for Folio:. “We have such a long history of solving problems and creating solutions, not only for our survival, but for the easing of everyday life,” he continues.

The article succinctly summarizes the human drive to create technology and its impact on reading and writing. From the 25,000 year-old Ishango Bone to modern day digital devices, publishers have participated in what BoSacks refers to as the transfer of information from one human brain to another.

“Magazine media continues to do what we have done for hundreds of years. We store valuable information for sale,” he notes.

It’s a sublime creative process, using whatever tools and technologies are available and effective, and magazine media creators have been a part of this landscape for hundreds of years. Yet he notes that “many older members of the magazine media business feel threatened or, perhaps better stated, vulnerable as the technologic waves of modern reading transmute from a carbon based paper society to a silicon based reading lifecycle.”

It’s true: Our industry is in transition, and this challenge to maintain relevance and revenue can be threatening. Yes, as BoSacks notes about print’s various substrates, “The beauty of the technology is that the ‘old thoughts’ will exist as long as the substrate maintains its legibility.”

This is why we do still believe in print…not as the exclusive way to publish, but as a lasting fixture in our human experience.

When the author of the Ishango Bone sat down to record his message, it was because he had something to say. I don’t imagine there was a bone-technology company pushing femurs as the “latest way to communicate.” No, the need to publish came first.

We agree with BoSacks that we humans do have a long history of solving problems and creating solutions. What’s interesting this time around is that the problem facing publishers now is how to properly use the bone (the digital platform) creatively enough to engage our recipients. Publishers will figure that out eventually, and then recreate their solutions when the next technically-advanced substrate comes along.

Meanwhile, print needs no solution – as a human race we have this one figured out – and will continue to be a go-to delivery channel that withstands technical obsolescence for as far into the future as we can see.