Sunday, March 28, 2010

Technology Giveth, Taketh and Perhaps Giveth Again?

This week Apple’s IPad goes on sale and it got me thinking back to the debut of the original Macintosh computer in January 1984. I can’t remember what teams played in the Superbowl that year but I vividly recall the jaw dropping “1984” Apple ad that aired early in the game. At the time I was in the startup days of a small publishing firm. We were producing regional magazines the old fashion way with clunky typesetting machines, hot wax, pica poles and Xacto knives. Apple’s new computer got my attention.

It took a few years but before long the Macintosh revolutionized our company and the entire publishing industry, drastically driving down production costs and exponentially increasing creative capacity. The Mac ushered in something close to a renaissance in publishing and I don’t think firms like mine would have been able to grow and thrive without the revolutionary technologies that eventually came out of that new machine.

Well technology has no emotional attachments and hasn’t been kind to the publishing world in the last decade. Some debate if the newspaper or magazine will even survive.

In this context the release of the IPad and the next generation of tablet devices is a big deal. While it’s too early to say for sure, my bet is that devices like the IPad and the new software and apps they’ll usher in are laying the foundation for the next renaissance in publishing.

To get a sense of this check out this recent item from Paid Content that does of quick round up of 15 publishers and how they are re-thinking the magazine. Very cool stuff; especially the clips from Wired and Sports Illustrated.