See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Read Me
Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I’ve been working in the printing business this long, having started out making plates some 40 years ago. It is equally amazing to me that Copresco, my digital printing business, is celebrating 30 years of operation.
I’m mildly startled to realize that this is my 14th year of writing “Johnson’s World” for you each month.
One thing that comes as no surprise at all is that “Johnson’s World” is now on the back page of Printing Impressions, the foremost magazine of the graphic arts industry. It was bound to happen, some would say inevitable, and I’m pleased as punch to be here.
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We’ve been told since grade school that we all have five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. This isn’t universally true, of course, since there are plenty of people who are lacking, to some degree, in one or more of the senses.
I think I can safely declare that any medium that isn’t print is limited to stimulating only two of our five senses: sight and hearing. Digital media purveyors have gone to great lengths to accommodate sensory disabilities, compensating for vision impairments with sound and for hearing impairments with visuals.
Helen Keller would be frustrated by digital media. Lacking perception of both sight and sound, she relied on her remaining senses to absorb and disseminate information. Digital media would have nothing to offer her.
Even those of us with all five senses intact notice more, absorb more, learn more and retain more when multiple senses are stimulated.
The additional sensory stimulation needn’t be directly related to the subject matter. That’s why movies have soundtracks.
Need to have an important discussion with a kid, or a client? Do it over a meal. The pleasant stimulation of the taste and smell that food brings will augment the sight and sound of your presentation.
That brings us to print, the sole medium capable of stimulating four senses (five, if the dog eats your homework) instead of just two.
How does print create sound? Simply by enabling reading aloud: no additional software necessary! Not good enough for you? Use Augmented Reality (AR) to bring digital smartphone functionality to ink on paper.
“Reading paper is active — I’m engaged and thinking, reacting, marking up the page,” says a college student quoted by researcher Naomi Baron. “Reading on a screen feels passive to me.” It’s true; touching paper markedly increases focus and retention.
Even the smell of ink and paper, oft remarked upon by bibliophiles, enhances the experience.
In offset printing, smell may be more actively stimulated by adding small quantities of scent to the fountain solution, perfume advertisements being one example of this. Pity the poor pressman who must explain to his wife why he comes home smelling of Chanel No. 5!
Engraving, thermography and diecutting all add dimension to print, making it more touchable. The Scodix company makes presses that use digital imaging to create three-dimensional print. Scodix touts dramatic pictures at shows, but more practically its offerings include an inkjet Braille printing process, meaning even variable data printing may now be targeted to the visually impaired.
That would surely bring a smile to Helen Keller’s face.
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Copresco in Carol Stream, Ill., is an executive with 40 years of experience in the graphic arts. He founded Copresco, a pioneer in digital printing technology and on-demand printing, in 1987. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.copresco.com