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Y2K--A Common Cause

March 1999
Commercial printers, trade shops, publishers and industry suppliers are banding together under the Graphics Century Project (GCP) umbrella to share critical information and find practical solutions concerning common Y2K problems.


(Editor's Note: This is the second in a year-long series of articles examining the Y2K problem as it applies to the commercial printing industry. This installment takes a look at the Graphics Century Project, an association-led effort to exchange knowledge.)

Pat Maher will be one of the first to admit that the commercial printing industry falls short in the free exchange of ideas and technology among its colleagues.

Perhaps that's why Maher, director of information services for Quad/Graphics, is so elated to see the level of cooperation taking place among members of the Graphics Century Project (GCP).

The project was developed by the Graphic Communications Association (GCA), a special industry group of Printing Industries of America, to share critical and up-to-date information on the Y2K computer problem as it applies to the graphic arts. Printers, trade shops, publishers and industry suppliers—big and small—have banded together to sift through the new age of urban legend and find practical answers to their common questions.

For the Record
A team leader for the GCP initiative, Maher is exploring the technical aspects of the Y2K bug. The fact that he is even willing to speak on the subject is a refreshing change from the multitude of techies who blurt "No comment" before curling up in a ball behind their company's Y2K Readiness Disclosure Statement, posted prominently on corporate Websites.

Maher and other GCP facilitators are more concerned about a lack of quality information. "We've had a lot of cooperation between different members of the printing, publishing and paper industries," Maher notes. "This is not an industry that shares information freely—there's a real barrier there. But what has come out of the [GCP] is a concerted effort to make sure the entire industry, not just an individual company, is ready."

By coming together as a group, for example, the project has forced the hand of support systems to come to the table with information on their readiness. A presentation by equipment manufacturers took place in November, and more are in the works, including the United States Postal Service (USPS), various utilities and the railroad.

The GCP began late last September and has been gathering momentum ever since. Virgil Horton, a GCA consultant with the Print Media Group, is among those spearheading the project, which boasts more than 30 major printing, publishing and supplier players—a veritable Who's Who including Time, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, Quad/Graphics, Quebecor Printing (USA) and R.R. Donnelley & Sons.


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