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Thaddeus B. Kubis

Converging Technologies and Print

By Thaddeus B. Kubis

About Thaddeus B.

Thad has developed The Institute For Media Convergence (, into a leading Media Convergence research group and NAK Integrated Marketing Inc., ( an internationally known, integrated marketing resource utilizing emerging technologies linked to print.

The “P” Word Needs Rebranding

In my opinion, the printing/graphic arts industry needs two things:
  1. a new name, and
  2. a futurist.

In the course of an industry’s or organization’s lifecycle, a new “brand” sometimes needs to be developed. For example, what once was the Department of War is now called the Department of Defense. Within the industry sector, name changes have a history as well. A recent switch within the food industry is the name change of its front-of-package (FOP) labeling scheme from "Nutrition Keys" to "Facts Up Front."

The list can go on and on. Perhaps the print industry needs a new brand, a new name, a new face—a name that reflects the commerce-based nature of print, and the need to align the segment with the other revitalized and emerging industries. I suggest (and I am certainly not the first one to do so) that print from this blog post on be known as Prnt-Commerce. pCommerce has a history and it just sounds too yellow to me.

The term print is aged and being challenged from many quarters.

Have you heard of the Gütenberg Parenthesis? No, well you should. Thomas Pettitt explained the way in which he uses the term the Gütenberg Parenthesis: the idea that oral culture was in a way interrupted by Gütenberg's invention of the printing press and the roughly 500 years of print dominance; dominance now being challenged in many ways by digital culture and the orality it embraces.

A recent article in the New York Times also posits the need for a New English language, so why can’t print (prnt) lead the way? To me prnt alone does not define the process; no, prnt needs to be directly linked to commerce, for that is a key part of the print model. The goal is not only to print money, but also to allow money to be made, using prnt as the vehicle of choice in this money-making process.

Print just sounds old and limiting, and I am a very strong supporter of print. The facts are the facts, or as a business associate once said, it is what it is. Print is dead, long live prnt-commerce.

Topic two—a futurist. Many industries have a futurist. These are people who look beyond today and tomorrow to a path yet undefined and start to write or at least define some of the rules that are needed to take full advantage of the future as they see it. Our industry currently has a few prnt futurists, and there have been some great ones in the past as well. There also are some very talented and active prnt-commerce futurist, but I don’t think this is enough.

We need a new type of sage, a new type of futurist, not limited just to our industry. I think prnt-commerce needs a futurist that looks far and wide and very much outside the current print industry and the current applications using print.

Our futurist needs to dream on how prnt-commerce will be used in the future by industries and verticals that exist today and those that are still on the drawing board. This visionary needs to be linked to as many industries as possible, not just to marketing, creative and production.

No, our futurist needs to be “touching” technology, mobile, science, banking, food processing, defense and many more. Not as a partner, but as an  equal or at the least an observer, a sage, an oracle of how prnt-commerce can support these industries and verticals as they evolve and how prnt-commerce can evolve with them. We can no longer be seen as the distribution end of any process, we need to be an enabler, start the engagement, keeping the flow of communications active and valid.

As media convergence gains traction—and it is and will continue to gain traction—the commerce or money-making end of any future business will drive the end results. Is Facebook worth $100 billion or is the commerce based on Facebook worth $100 billion? See what I mean?

Prnt-commerce crosses multiple channels, as well. Magazine and book publishing are clearly prnt-commerce driven, as is direct marketing. With the growing acceptance and integration of online and offline components—including e-commerce and m-commerce—within the marketing sector, prnt-commerce fits right in.

If you agree with the branding change from print to prnt-commerce, then you must agree with the need for the futurist. Why? Because the future of print as we know it is not a future that the industry controls. Print’s future is—as is true for most other “traditional” industries—linked to those new technologies that need to use older technologies to deliver the new messages, the new media.

BTW, I think I would make the perfect prnt-commerce futurist, not only because I’m raising the flag, but because of my deep belief in the convergence of all print media, verticals and partner industries, and my very open mind and broad point of view.

Send me your thoughts; I can be reached at

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