Visions Of Prepress p. 53

By: HELENE SMITH Visions Of Prepress p. 53

THE WORD ON the street was that Seybold Seminars in Boston ? a publishing technology showcase that only five years ago was little more than a collection of tabletop exhibits in a hotel ballroom, barely accommodated a trade show and conferences at the Hynes Convention Center this time around.
The new owners of Seybold Seminars, the international conglomerate SoftBank Expos, has accordingly scheduled the annual Boston gathering for a much larger venue in 1997: New York City's Jacob Javits Convention Center.
It's unlikely anybody would dispute that Seybold's growth reflects the growth of the publishing industry. In fact, the gathering makes a case for redefining publishing, as everything related to the acquisition and distribution of information content has become the province of the publishing business. The difference is that there are new ways to define information exchange, and new ways to deliver information, mainly to computers.
Recent criticism of Seybold's San Francisco and Boston meetings has centered on the seeming preoccupation with all things Internet. However, it behooves one of the industry's most respected observers to give voice to the diversity of views being debated. Seybold is not alone in this effort. Boston-based Northeast Consulting Resources Inc. finds it necessary to reassess publishing trends every six months, in a seminar series entitled, "Mapping the Future of Information Commerce."
The good news for newspapers is that at this year's Seybold Seminars, the exhibition floor was noticeably skewed toward print and prepress, and there were suggestions during the sessions that publishing in the future will be a more realistic combination of print and new media.
Even Nicholas Negroponte, the celebrated MIT researcher and author of the new media bible Being Digital, is suggesting a U-turn, according to his colleague, Walter Bender.
Describing the "Negroponte pretzel," Bender said that rather than abandon atoms and adopt bits, as Negroponte has proposed, MIT Media Lab researchers are now submitting that the future will be comprised of both bits and atoms; or, as Bender said, "a nice marriage between traditional electronic and new media."
The realities of new media cannot be ignored, however. John Warnock, chairman and CEO of Adobe Systems, noted that the United States has passed two extraordinary milestones this year: the volume of electronic mail surpassed paper mail, and communications lines are used more for data than voice.
In addition, although Bender and his MIT cohorts believe "paper has got a lot of nice attributes" ? and Bender says MIT is working on reusable paper ? people will utilize the physical media in many different ways in the future. In addition to holding information in your hand," it will be "all around you," Bender said, suggesting the concept of literally wearing information may come to fruition as soon as 1997.
Next year, for instance, Bender said he might wear intelligent sneakers, the protrusion for toes making a handy satellite uplink, and incoming data might be displayed on his wristwatch. And if he wants to exchange information with someone else ? handing over a business card, for example ? the process may be as simple as shaking hands.
Bill Givens, president of ECRM, identified himself as representing traditional prepress businesses, "the most threatened group in the audience," and dispelled what he called the Chicken Little perspective ? that "the Internet sky is going to fall on printing and publishing and crush us."
To illustrate his point, Givens confessed to not owning a computer.
"I get my information from the newspapers and magazines and Seybold report, so they'll have a hard time getting to me," he said.
Givens' tip on the best way to predict the future of publishing: follow the advertising dollars.
Affirming the view of the communications future as a mix of digital and print media, Hunter Madsen, senior partner and director of J. Walter Thompson Interactive Enterprise, offered as evidence projections concluding that in the year 2000, $4 billion to $5 billion will be spent on advertising in the interactive realm, compared with approximately $60 billion in print media.
He warned, however, that he expects spending on print advertising to flatten out.
"The Internet won't kill printing as we know it today," Givens said. "I believe it will be a parallel function. There's a balance here somewhere that we're all trying to find."
Said Warnock: "There will always be a place for the novel, essay, linear, well-thought out thought."
?(Smith is a freelance writer and marketing communications consultant in Sound Beach, N.Y.) [Caption]
# Editor & Publisher n June 15, 1996


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