I've always had a bit of a love affair with books and magazines. The dog-eared pages, the smell of the ink, the crack of the spine – like receiving a handwritten letter in the mail, it's a tactile experience that is satisfying in terms of its rarity in our digital world. As a designer, I am never ashamed to judge a book by its cover, and I delight in the visual details, typographic and otherwise. But is print becoming an anomaly, or in the frightening words of The Simpsons, is the medium dying?
More and more often, people are turning to the web for information. Newspaper circulation is declining, and blogs are becoming the go-to avenue for unedited, collective conversation. The web has the power to reach the masses, fluidly and flexibly, via searchable and linkable content, and slick, experiential interfaces. In this media-rich world, where we are bombarded with images in an aggressive, almost subliminal way, the internet seems the only medium that can keep up. We seem to be refusing to settle for anything less than constant On-Demand content, where the dissemination of information is free and democratic.
But all this is not news. What is changing, however, is that larger companies have started to forego more traditional avenues in favor of the broad outreach of the internet. A project we just completed for an architecture firm, a flash New Years greeting, reached thousands of clients and contacts around the world in a matter of seconds. Flexible in its delivery, and dramatic in design, the digital card was a perfect solution for a company that prides itself in green practices. Large and small companies alike have an increasing need for a variety of avenues to reach their target audience, and "going digital" can help them reach a new demographic. Likewise, some magazines (like the recently-retired Punk Planet, and teen 'zines ElleGirl and Teen People) have made the switch from print to digital (either by choice or necessity), allowing for a constant influx of user-driven content, and a cost-effective approach to visual communication. Sites like Craigslist have rendered the Classified section of the newspaper useless, as the up-to-the-minute content of the online portal can't be challenged.
In the ever-changing digital realm, however, content is disposable. While a beautiful book, or a screenprinted poster, or a letterpressed card may remain in your office indefinitely, as items of contemplation or "objets d'art," digital content dies quickly and absolutely. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The web's ethereal and expendable qualities force us to constantly evolve, to consistently revisit our intentions and to design for lasting impact.
I will always, unwaveringly, be a die-hard print addict. There's just nothing like coherent, well-edited, beautiful print pieces, where the grid is king, typography is queen, and CMYK is the official language. I will often advocate print collateral over web-based material – the physical and portable benefits of print (and our visceral reaction to it) are too important– but I may have selfish motives. It's a YouTube world now (or maybe it's a *shameless plug alert* Jackass World), and the limitless reach of the internet is too exciting to write off. Our time is becoming more and more valuable as the world changes rapidly around us, and it's our responsibility as members of the creative and technical communities to be at the forefront of this evolution. And, for the purposes of full disclosure, I get my news online. C'est la vie.