You can sleep soundly, magazines and (maybe) newspapers of the world. In my opinion, print isn’t going anywhere. Here’s why: We’re purposely re-introducing it into our lives, making a conscious effort to include print media into our digital content experience.
Take a look at Layar, a new app that’s been buzzing around the web today. Before I speak its praises, though, I think I should say this first: Layar doesn’t solve any sort of problem for anyone. You don’t need your iPhone to read a magazine or need a magazine to find videos on your iPhone. While it’s super-cool technology, it appears to provide little (if any) real utility for the user. A popular maxim applies here: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.” Anyway, moving forward…
If you watch the video, you’ll notice an awkward dance between digital and print content involving an iPhone and a magazine. If you asked yourself, “Why don’t I just read a blog? There’s words and videos everywhere on them things!” then you and I are on the same wavelength. However, the point of this post is to highlight the fact that we as a culture are cognitively choosing to drag print back to the fore. Layar even requires a print piece to prompt its cool factor.
All that new-fangled technology aside, I have my own beliefs as to why print isn’t going anywhere. I think we can all agree that humans gravitate towards what is tangible, testable, and measurable. Once you print something, it becomes part of your physical environment, and therefore can’t be switched off or disappear like a web browser. It’s permanent (unless you burn it…which is highly frowned upon). Some would argue that the print is “worth” more because of the publishing process. Someone had to sign off on the economic decision to print a book, and therefore people might attribute a higher value to them (Snooki’s book is a terrible example here, and for the sake of argument, I’m ignoring it…as should you… Forever).
Layar’s cultural ubiquity will indicate just how bad we want to bring print back into a prominent role in our lives. While I don’t think Layar provides a better way to consume content, I certainly celebrate its efforts in making print “visible” again.