Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The comments made around drupa suggest that there has been a significant change in attitudes about digital technology within the printing industry. After the apparent crash in internet stocks there continued to be some belief that print could continue essentially as it had previously. However, digital technology has continued to have an impact. 'Desk top publishing' from the '80s has taken over many of the functions of pre-press. Photoshop on recent computers can do all that is required for print. InDesign has the typography features that were once missing from DTP. Quark now supports a PDF workflow.

Digital printing now offers quality that compares with litho. There is the possibility of improving consistency in ways that would not be easy to control for litho. The PDF workflows for digital print are now widely used for all forms of print.

Frank Romano has suggested that 20% of print procurement currently involves the web and that this will increase to over 60% during the next three years. (See also more comment on this on another blog on "IPEX2002". This has continued since 2002 and is now mostly about drupa, but the issues relate to IPEX also.

The IPEX2002 blog includes a statement by Christian Gugler, Chairman of PrintCity’s Networking Activity Group. He is aware of changes in the industry and the way that 'networking' links in to other forms of communication. After drupa this will be accepted by most of the people who have visited. This will represent a change on the approach from ten years ago.

The site at learn9.net has been mostly about situations where PDF technology had an impact. This has been difficult for some print companies. Pre-press has had to change since Desktop Publishing to support content originating with the customers for print. These changes might have happened within a formal quality system but are often responses to observing trends with other companies.

In future the site will not be restricted to one approach, around print and formal quality systems. PDF is only one option within the choice of file formats for online content. It has many advantages but cost is often a limiting aspect. So the scope of the site may get wider.

It seems that the impact of technology will now be more disruptive for educational institutions based on print. Universities, schools, and libraries have all developed during the time that print has existed. It may not be obvious how deep the implication is or how much change will be associated with digital technology.

Previous papers have tried to show links between theories about 'learning organisations' and 'quality management systems'. In future there will be more short entries on this blog and updates to the website. For conferences there could be more emphasis on a workshop rather than a paper. One idea would be to look at ideas of a 'community of practice' and then look at how jobs have changed in pre-press / web design , then in libraries and universities.