Steering the “New World Digital Order”
There is a book by Ray Kurzweil called “The Singularity Is Near.” In this book, Mr. Kurzweil has a theory about The Law of Accelerating Returns, which states that in today’s business environment, “Change happens faster than we are able to forecast or predict it.” This is a departure not only from long ago, but from our more recent past as well. There was, in our lifetime, the possibility of accurately predicting technologic growth. Those days have gone up in digital smoke. Technologic growth that once took multiple generations to achieve now happens in months.
Another of Mr. Kurzweil’s concepts is that the rate of technologic change is not linear, but exponential. This is not a new concept to anyone in the publishing field.
Everyone knows that I love technology and the possibilities that it holds, especially for those in our industry. We are, no doubt, on the bleeding edge compared to most other professionals. Retailers, lawyers, cabbies, mothers and most others, although impacted every day by the new world digital order, are affected somewhat less visibly than those of us who transmit information in the forms of magazines, newspapers, newsletters and the like. We are pushing and prodding the system to go ever faster.
Over the past decade, publishers have digitally married the electronic workflow. It occurred to me this morning that a magazine can no longer be produced without a computer. This is not a shocking discovery, but it did make me stop and think. From the written word pecked out on a keyboard, e-mailed and clipped by the editor, formatted and manipulated by the art director, spun with great skill and digital alchemy by the production elite, and converted by the printer magically to CTP, there is no longer any step in the process that is not fully and completely computerized. The presses are controlled by digits, the bindery is efficiently automated, and the bundling and shipping is all tagged and directed by database files. In the near future, magazines will likely have little computer chips called RFID imbedded into them for further electronic enhancement and accountability.