Entry: Exercise 49 - Join an essay writing contest 14.2.11

I have not posted anything here since the last entry because I had moved to a different company.  My new role does not require me to manage a team or writers so I don't have any need to continue this weekly exercise.

I've decided to keep this blog up anyway.  It's free and who knows who might stumble into this blog and find it useful.  Yes, I still entertain such ideas. Also, I thought that if and when I do come up with interesting work, I should have a blog to post it to. 

Which brings me to this piece I would like to share.  A few weeks after I moved to Lexmark, an open invitation was circulated through the company email to join an essay writing contest sponsored by the company's writers' club.  I jumped on the chance.  The theme was "Printers and the world today."  My piece ended up winning the top prize.  Yes, I won some cash for my effort.  Thank you.  Sharing my piece below:


Print's not dead

Have we lost our sense of appreciation for the printed page?  In this day and age when content is mostly viewed on glowing screens and displayed with millions of colors, have we forgotten the romance of old-fashioned paper and visceral ink?

What saddens me is not that the possible answer to both questions is a big yes.  It is that few people actually care to ask anymore.  But can we blame them? 

This is a changed world after all.  Today, what is the point of a complete collection of the Encyclopedia Britannica when Wikipedia is way more accurate?  Today, why thumb through dirty pages of newsprint when the latest breaking news can be neatly browsed online?  Today, the yellow pages no longer mean actual yellow pages.  Today, research no longer requires fingering through neatly filed index cards in the library, merely the almost innate ability to infer the best keywords and hitting search.

The page has been transformed into what is essentially clever code with interactive and user-friendly features.  It glows like it brags what it can now do.  Today, content being real is no longer enough; it needs to be augmented.  Admittedly, information is faster to search, sort and filter.  How can you argue with that benefit?

Digitization has truly come of age, yet why is it then that we still see glimpses of the old and familiar in the way our content as well as content delivery is designed?

For example, current graphic design trends show less and less of cold computer precision, polished grid and tight balance. Instead, they are more organic; show more texture and more character.  Rough and grunge seem to appeal more to audiences than the refined and polished. 

User interfaces are laced with contextual sound and animation.  We see more and more interfaces that involve natural hand gestures such as page flipping.  Kindle, the leading e-reader, touts its screen view as a great approximation of the printed page – e-ink technology, they call it.

I believe all these show we are trying to recapture some of the warmth that we lost in the digitization process.  I believe that collectively, we still long for the personal – to touch and to feel our content, to print on fine paper and to read on real crisp pages.  Printers fill this stubborn need.  We are human after all.  Content can be diced and digitized to death but the overall human experience stays analog – a feast of the senses – not entirely what current user interfaces can deliver.

Books still look nice on shelves.  Newspapers don't need power or a wifi connection.  Presentation handouts, calling cards, certificates of appreciation, and wedding invitations will always be printed.  And with the ever increasing quality and diminishing costs of printing on demand, desktop printers have further democratized publishing.  Printing is becoming the personal medium of the masses. 

Lost your cat recently? Go print flyers!

David Carson, the trailblazing graphic designer who birthed grunge typography, declared The End of Print in his seminal book of that title published in 1995.  I still have a copy of that book, frayed yet very real and personal.  I will never trade it for an e-version.  Did you recognize the irony in that – that Mr. Carson pronounced print as dead on a printed medium?  The book was a best-seller by the way.  Maybe because in its irony, people recognized a stubborn truth, which is that, the printed page simply cannot die.


July 11, 2013   06:11 PM PDT
We LOVE!! this idea. Good for you. We found our USA-based printer at the Miami fair, Nov. 2005. We have lived between S FL and York, UK for 8 yrs. Brrrr. Missing the warmth. Many authors based in the US while others are from UK. We offer e-books but prefer print: yeh yeh yeh we can zip thru an ebook, but only in linear fasion. How to thumb back thru to locate a name? a barely mentioned character? yes yes yes we can ‘search’ an e-book but how if we dont know, for sure, what we’re looking for?
Personal Statement Writing
April 30, 2012   08:46 PM PDT
The lucidity in your post is simply striking and I can assume you are an expert on this subject.
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September 1, 2011   07:01 PM PDT
That actually inspired me more than anything else in a long time.
All the more I feel the desire to write - not just type away at a keyboard - but to write and feel the analogue of paper again. There really is nothing like it. :)

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