Fast Company dialogue: Is print dead?

You’ll see a frightening image on the back page of Fast Company this month: Me arguing. I was half of a dialogue. The other half: John Griffin, president of the National Geographic Society’s magazine group. The question, Is print dead? The first volley, mine:

Print is not dead. Print is where words go to die.

Too many of the ideas trapped on pages end up, at best, in unused archives or, at worst, in recyclers’ pulp, when they should be online: searchable, discoverable, linkable, part of the conversation.

In this new world, the medium is meaningless. Media define themselves by the pipes that feed them but the public does not; we want what we want when, where, and how we want it. The wise media company will be there with us; the stubborn ones will die.

Look at the hoo-ha it took to create this page: lots of photographic, editorial, and production tsuris, and for what? Is our conversation better for being on this slick paper? No, it’s not, because only two of us are in it when we know that the collective wisdom of the people holding this page is greater than our own. We should be having this conversation together.

But that’s the problem with print: It is far too one-way for this two-way world.

I’ll confess that I recycle my lines like a bum homeless person street entrepreneur recycles cans. The rest of what I have to say would be familiar even to a casual Buzzmachinist.

The funny thing is that the end of the page has a link saying this dialogue will be online here. Only it’s not, two weeks after the magazine hit the newsstands. Ding-dong, the words are dead.