Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cross country for cross-media (10)

I had not expected anyone busy with print in cross-media. Coming from print publishing, I was eager to hear what could be said about print and digital media. At CMID07 Mikael Malanin of the Helsinki University of Technology presented a paper named New paradigms of print.

In his paper Mikael observes that traditionally digital media have been associated with print media. A new reverse paradigm is to associate print media to digital. Another paradigm in media products is the community generated content.

The paradigms are not really new. In the nineties we have particularly seen the publishers coming up with extensions of their existing print products such newspapers and magazines. It was basically for marketing purposes that publishers went into internet. Usually they saw internet as a potential cannibalism mechanism for their print title. By now publishers have changed this narrow view and exploring editorial concepts as well as marketing concepts. Not all concepts are successful; for example, internet is not becoming the newspaper boy who delivers the pdf newspaper file in great numbers. But most newspapers and magazine publishers have digital extensions to their print product.

So far one cannot speak either of a replacement of the print product by a digital product. Only in a few cases magazine publishers had to change from print into digital edition; the Dutch publisher of Elle magazine changed over from a print to a digital product. So far the great revolution from print to digital has not come around. And given cross-media, analogue products like newspapers and magazines might stay in place until digital paper can compete with analogue paper.

Print products in association with digital products or services have been around since the end of the nineties. I saw as a Europrix2001 jury member one of the Finnish entries of 2001,, which was definitely a cross-media product. Sooda is a dynamic and innovative online community for young people about 12 to 19 years old. Sooda is full of interactive services, new visual experiences and unconventional content. In summer 2000 Sooda grew into a cross-media product, when a printed school diary was published and turned out to be a hit. The other Finnish hit Habbo Hotel publishes in Finland a diary. In the meantime is it not uncommon that internet sites get printed products. Books are produced from blogs. Magazines are created around a website like recently the magazine RTL GP was created for the fans of Formula 1 in The Netherlands, who follow closely the race website of the broadcasting station RTL.

While the digital counterparts of printed products can usually be categorised as extensions, the printed products yielded from digital sites are often serving a community. This can be Grand Prix Formula 1 lovers (like me), but also a community of bird watchers. Internet, Mikael remarks, has proved to be an effective medium for creating and maintaining of online communities, which operate in the virtual space and are not dependent on geographical boundaries.

These virtual communities are often the proper environment to start new services with community generated content. In an enthusiastic community there are always community members to generate content, given that they have proper online facilities. The mechanics of such a community are most likely that there are 100 percent unique visitors of which 10 percent regular lurkers and 1 percent participating members, who will be part of a community generating content such as blog contributions and video and articles for the printed edition.

The conclusion can be that print is not yet dead.

Blog Posting Number: 715

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