Wednesday 13th May 2009 16:00:00 - 17:00:00
For the final session Simon Worthington, Alessando Ludovico, Edwin Schravesande, the people of the OPL, Gerrit Imsieke and Florian Cramer gather around the table.
The first issue that is raised is the relation between creators (content-creators) and designers? Between what is editorial work and what is design? A conventional way of anwering this is hinting at the real difference between people who are good at words and those who are good at visual stuff. Yet it is the entanglement of technical protocols (in software and CMS’s), and the way in which our tools deal with design and with content — prestructuring and structuring both — it is our CMS’s and tools with their prestructured designs (themes) and automated document conversions — which, well, makes us think again about it.
Gerrit Imsieke drops a nice quotable statement: “Design is also an elegant design solution. There is design in programming”.
The amateur - professional split comes up of course. The ‘themes’ of Wordpress bring okay graphic design in the hands of anyone willing to choose a nice template; yet also the ‘amateur’ world also exactly has the freedom to use ugly designs, just as the fanzines & small zines (50.000 there were at least) of the eighties and nineties.
The second issue is that of the reason for POD and for the e-readers. Is it secretly a question of aesthetics, Florian Cramer asks, rather as a concluding statement, that we choose for them because it makes the text look better? Because, why an e-reader, when we already have either a mobile phone with a decent display, or a small laptop? Why print texts, if not because the text looks better on a piece of paper?
Alternative titles for the conference Print/Pixel — though all speakers think it is a good title: “Programming design” (Gerrit Imsieke), “System design” (Simon Worthington), “Print 2.0″ (OPL), “Integration and convergence”, “Publishing, real soon now” (to bring in the ambiguity), “Scalability” (Schravesande: a lot of desing work will be done in scalability, like taking away pictures as soon as the screen becomes too small).
Florian plays the devil’s advocate: “All the mentioned alternatives are characteristic of web design.”
Nobody disagrees on that. Yet the web-model is a terrible thing in many respects, design-wise. There certainly is much bad web design conventions. There is a lot of room for improvement. As I guess anybody who was ever involved in the development of a larger website, using a CMS, knows. On the other hand: there is not one web design model, as there is also not one print design model.
But there is one important aspect to the web design model which is always, or almost always true: the fact that visual design is seperate from the content (being a seperate file — .css). On the other hand, wikipedia (Cramer says) pushes a certain design from content.
Alessandro states: until now print and pixel were just fiancees, now they are married, then the problems start.
Not covered until now is the possibility of doing generative printing on demand: the possibility to customize every single copy of a publication. It is technically possible (the PZI did a project, and used it).
Customization — of newspapers? It all is mentioned: it’s overrated, it makes us isolated, it doesn’t allow for serendipity, it is good because you get to read the good stuff (for you), and not what you don’t want to read, the filtering that takes place in social networks, using google-reader giving a better insight in the ‘news’ et cetera. I certainly would like it — but I’d see it as a layered thing, where I — as a reader — make choices, but also make such choices that allow for serendipity, that look at what peers and friends are reading, that always gives me the work of certain journalists, etc. It does not exist. It certainly is not RSS as it exists now, nor following tags.
Matthew Bernius states: “I am much more interested in when print and pixel get babies, when we will have a true hybrid, in a post-McLuhan sense. Something entirely new.”
As a final statement Florian Cramer mentions that most of the speaker did not know each other before the conference, did not even know of each other, and their enterprises and research — yet: there was not any problem in getting to an understanding. This makes one curious to see the next developments.