Concerns are being voiced that traditional graphic design methods using paper and printing are on the way out as a result of new technologies and green efforts aimed at reducing paper use. These are legitimate concerns and they will certainly change graphic design methods, but don't freak out yet, I do not believe traditional paper methods, and printing will end for a very long time, if at all.
I am not going to go on the record like IBM saying the computer will never be smaller than a room, but I will say that paper and printing disappearing altogether is unlikely.
Let's rocket ahead about 100 years. [Whoosh!] Now we have digital flexible screens that refresh when you plug them into your USB port (developed
). We have magnetic paper and inks that can be put through the printer again and again with the magnetic ink simply re-arranging. Can you imagine libraries with books that can be plugged in and refreshed into new books? Did I mention that no energy is required to read these books (developed
)? Let's even dare to say this paper can be cut and packaged without changing it's properties.
If this was the case, I would agree that paper use would decrease substantially form an office use standpoint, but why will ink and paper not completely disappear? One very simply reason is how cheap paper is. From a green standpoint, paper companies make more profit when they find new ways to develop more paper using less trees. They are using better recycling methods and they are even re-planting forests faster than they come down. (Who wants to cut them-self out of a job?) Despite these facts, there is still one more time-tried reason why graphic design using paper and printing simply won't disappear for quite some time.
This reason is that of basic humanity. I am not getting all weird on you, just hear me out. As humans we like to interact with different environments using our senses. Consider the reason we enjoy foods from different cultures or different restaurants. You could eat a nutrient cube, take vitamins, and drink only water, saving you lots of time. For some strange reason though we like to interact with necessary activities in life, and we absolutely love to enjoy new tastes and textures. In food we find taste appealing! In graphic design taste is translated into tactility. Tactility plays a huge role in how we wow our audiences and get our message across. It is why we use different paper options, emboss, scratch and sniff, use textures, and die-cut. Tactility is very important, and we enjoy surfaces and textures. We find it fun and interesting to interact with these graphic design works of art. When you introduce magnetic paper and screens, we lose the element of tactility, and thus we succumb to digitally eating nutrient cubes. Ick!
What have we learned today? I believe there is no validity to paper and ink disappearing altogether, and I doubt that it will ever disappear.
Labels: End of Ink, End of Paper, Paper and Ink, Paper vs. Web, Printing Technology