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Ideas Drive Interacting Marketing

By Jack Powers

Published June 15, 1996

Every new development in publishing technology empowers media creators and reduces the role of the professional producers. The photocopier, the word processor, the desktop publishing system, the digital camera and the color laser printer eliminate the prepress middlemen, streaming ideas directly “from brain to mouse to press.

Compared to fifteen years ago, printed pages are cheaper and faster to create, and the explosion of publishing worldwide proves that when something is cheaper and faster, people will make more of it. But there is something much more interesting than lower costs and higher volumes happening: all the new technologies have drastically improved the quality of the graphic communications we create, ratcheting up our expectations for timely text, for high impact graphics and for effective design.

Look at any magazine advertisiement on the newsstand today and compare it to the same ad ten years ago. The text is fresher, the illustrations are more compelling, the photographs are more numerous and better reproduced, and the overall layout is more evocative, more effective and more colorful. In every area of marketing communications-- from direct mail to brochures to product packaging-- the quality of the creative has improved as technology has put the writer, the illustrator and the designer in the driver’s seat.

Smart graphic arts firms have scrambled to accommodate these fundamental changes by helping facilitate creativity: typographers and repro shops have become service bureaus, electronic photo studios and training centers; printers have gone digital in both platemaking and printing; and publishers have struggled with new job descriptions, new lines of authority and responsibility, and new expectations from their readers. The turmoil has been dramatic, but the end product--a printed page--has always been a unifying result.

The rise of digital media is a bigger challenge and a far greater opportunity. Technological developments up until now have caused a revolution in process; new media represents a revolution in product. The static, mass-produced page is gone, replaced by a fluid, adaptive, customized new medium that tunes itself uniquely to the needs of each prospect. In the best CD-ROM publications and World Wide Web pages, no two readers experience the product in exactly the same way, and the process of creation is inextricably linked to the process of production.

New media--especially the web--closes the gap between creator and audience, between seller and buyer, moving communication “from brain to mouse to screen,” the closest we can get (so far) to the ultimate communications link--brain to mouse to brain.

With no film, plates, paper or postage, new media offers a purer form of communications where the ideas--not the production details--rule. All the important new publishing technologies focus on the creative side: digital cameras, desktop illustration and photo retouching programs, CD-ROM authoring tools, WYSIWYG web page editors, multimedia programming wizards and knowledge management databases all streamline the delivery of ideas. As publishing moves beyond ink-and-paper, the role of the graphic communications professional will evolve even further from handling production to facilitating creativity. \\



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