Archive for the ‘Syndicated Article’ Category

  • Why does the future take so long to arrive?

    In late 1971, a computer engineer named Ray Tomlinson sent the first email message. It was ten letters long (QWERTYUIOP) and he was probably oblivious to the fact that hitting ‘send’ would gain him entry into the history books. Tomlinson’s invention changed the course of communication forever – usurping technology such as the fax. 205 billion emails are sent every day, and this will reach over 246 billion by the end of 2019.

    Yet, the email hasn’t yet usurped the ‘paper trail’ and truly paperless systems are few and far between.

    Paper stubbornly remains a feature of our everyday lives. Decades later, the paperless office is being called a ‘30-year old pipe dream’ and the United States Postal Service still processes and delivers 509 million pieces of mail each day. There is no doubt that the reliance on paper is decreasing, but we are still years away from actually achieving the paperless nirvana we were promised.

    If paper is stubbornly sticking around, what does this mean for other technologies that are supposed to eradicate the problems of the past and deliver to us utopian efficiency and productivity?

    Is it a harbinger for all things ‘paperless’, such as paperless money? Bitcoin (the world’s first digital currency) claims that it will change finance in the same way the web changed publishing – yet, we have had credit cards for decades, and many still carry cash.

    Why can’t we let go? What will it take to ‘kill’ analogue systems off once and for all?

    Technology is not ‘yet’ ready

    The tools for going paperless are both accessible and economical; you can easily scan a key document and save it in PDF format; e-books can be downloaded and read through myriad digital devices; and receiving all of your bills via email is a cinch. But while this technology has come a long way, it still has an uphill journey to be truly ‘ready’.

    Paper does not need reboots, passwords, or charging. Paper notebooks do not ‘crash’. Bic pens are ready to write, whether you have 4G connectivity or not. With paper, there is no system to learn and shortcut keys to memorise. Alexa needs to be plugged in, while Siri, Cortana and Google Now can’t doodle.

    The transition of paper to electronic document has not solved the issue of content chaos. We are still trying to remember which folder we saved that contract in. When the system fails, which is unpredicted, we easily fall back on paper and legacy paper processes. In addition, the reality for some organisations is that there are multiple touchpoints in the workflow that remain analogue.

    Coupled to this, many have said that the practicality of paper is hard to beat on project sites; it is disposable, easily replaced and you can edit (using a red pen) as you please. Decades have passed, and the use of paper still feels natural and inherent.

    In the words of Getting Things Done author David Allen, “…the easiest and most ubiquitous way to get stuff out of your head is pen and paper.”

    Users are (often) not the centre of things

    Amazon Kindle is an e-reader device that enables users to read e-books, newspapers, magazines and other digital media. Tech developers saw the need to mimic a book in tablet format, but still provide the feeling of reading a book (turning a page, etc).

    Why was Kindle successful? Because developers placed the users at the heart of the technology experience. We often forget that systems and apps meant for everyone must be designed for everyone.

    E-signatures and encryption are only useful if the people you want to communicate with have the same tools.

    The Moleskin Paper Tablet and Pen+ combo, which digitises your handwritten notes and doodles for editing and sharing, is reliant on its smartpen and mobile app to make it work usefully.

    Microsoft’s Courier Tablet, a book-sized digital journal with a native stylus, held promise as a tool designed for the creative minds, in which architects can sketch building plans or writers can draft documents, but it didn’t catch on – content creation alone wasn’t enough.

    Many systems and apps fail to benefit those who use them. And for that reason, creative professionals who write, sketch, or prototype by hand still carry cheap notebooks and pens.

    Until technology can perform like (or better than) paper, we’ll incessantly default to the original. Going paperless is likely to remain a stretch for many and the past decades have taught us that no matter how smart, technology is never ‘absolute’.

    People will probably be stuffing wads of cash under their mattress for the next 50 years, possibly more. Vinyl records will continue to be played occasionally, and we’ll still see horses and carts on the roads (the queen drives in one every now and then).

    In reality, we’ll more likely experience a blended future in which new and old systems co-exist. And this will apply to a plethora of new technologies, not just paper, including those such as autonomous vehicles.

    Collectors may always want to own a ‘self-drive’ vehicle and if that is the case, then we’ll need systems and infrastructure that allow both systems to coexist. Going forward, the ‘fast track’ to the future may literally be one in which the Hyperloop jostles for space among ‘vintage’ Volkswagens, BMWs and Volvos. Look left, and a drone will be delivering a pizza. Look right and you’ll notice someone doing the morning ‘paper-run’.

    And whilst we all may fantasise about efficient sci-fi future worlds filled with Minority Report holographics, it is likely to be the transition from our current realities to these future enabled utopias where the real engineering challenge will lie.

    Such are the “Back to the Nature” characteristics of ‘progress’.

    This glimpse of the future was crafted by: Sam Dungey. Used with permission.

    (Aurecon has launched a new futuristic blog! Called Just Imagine, it provides a glimpse into the future for curious readers, exploring ideas that are probable, possible and for the imagination. This post originally appeared on Aurecon’s Just Imagine blog. Get access to the latest blog posts as soon as they are published by subscribing to the blog.)

  • Stationery is not standing still in NZ

    Pride In Print Award judges have labelled this year’s Business Stationery Category the best ever in regards the outstanding range of cutting-edge entries submitted.

    The category — which includes such work as letterheads, business cards, envelopes, compliment slips and presentation folders — became a genuine talking point for the first time in memory, says senior judge Damian Fleming (pictured).

    “When evaluating stationery in the past we have often praised the faultless quality but also found little extraordinarily creative or complex to comment on,” he says.

    “However, this year the category has really taken strides — there were a lot of good ideas, variety, more creativity and the quality of the work really stood out. There was some really complicated stuff done with intricate foiling, embossing and neat finishing, which made the judges stop and discuss.

    “For example, one of the business cards was produced in a plastic stock — it was die-cut and printed both sides, with the image constructed in such a way that you could see through the substrate. It was very interesting and resembled a really high-quality credit card.

    “Another business card for a panel beater just screamed quality in terms of the printing expertise. If you wanted to get your vehicle repaired and repaired well, that business card spoke volumes about where that firm was coming from. It was an awesome promo.”

    Mr Fleming says it was speculated among the Awards judges that in light of the economic recession, businesses are striving to market their brands with more energy and this desire is being fully embraced and extrapolated by all avenues of the printing industry.

    Fellow senior judge Kerenza Smith agrees that businesses appear to be striving to differentiate through design and print to create distinctive and unique business cards and stationery.

    “There were some real talking points rather than just generic information carriers,” says Ms Smith. “They were not necessarily big budget, but instead clever and cost-effective solutions. Starting with a strong design concept, the bold use of colour, pattern and overprinting, combined with interesting stock choices meant for a very strong category this year.”

    Ms Smith says there was also a broader grouping of stationery items this year.
    “Not just business cards and compliment slips together, but co-ordinating presentation folders as well.”
    Pride In Print Awards manager, Sue Archibald, says stationery has been separated into different categories for this year’s event to give personal items such as wedding invitations and greeting cards their due recognition as specialty products.

    “Stationery has been somewhat of an overlooked area in the past, but Pride In Print is now recognising it as something intensely personal either to a company in terms of reflecting its image or to individuals making a heartfelt statement,” says Ms Archibald. “It is excellent to see the value of work entering these areas and the quality of New Zealand printers being acknowledged.”
    This year’s Pride In Print Awards are being held at the Wellington TSB Bank Arena on Friday May 20.
    For further information, please contact Pride In Print Awards Manager Sue Archibald (021) 663-881