What Bruce Willis tells us about digital media and the future of print
Early last week, the UK’s DailyMail reported that Bruce Willis was considering legal action againstApple for the right to hand down his iTunes music collection to hisdaughters. The news has already been discreditedby the actor’s wife but whether it’s true or not, it has sparked quite agripping discussion about ownership rights and the gifting digitalassets.At this point, you’re probably wondering how this relates to the futureof print. Well, print has long been the technology of choice for turningabstract information into physical objects. While this is changingbecause of the internet – with its efficiency and convenience- the BruceWillis tale reminds us how we sometimes just wish the digital media weconsume could feel more real. Here’s why…
‘Owning’ bit-based media
Legally speaking, we don’t actually own the iTunes songs or ebooks wepurchase online. We rent a license to use them. People are starting tocatch on to this fact, as they realize that they can’t easily pass ontheir digi-goods to their loved ones like they would a physical book ora record. Now, there are a few waysyou can get around this, say if you want to make sure your kids canaccess your Facebook photos or Kindle books after your death. Some ofthese options are more expensive and legit than others. But the fact ofthe matter is that as more of the media we consume goes online, we’restarting to struggle with its intangible and transitory nature.Until recently, owning stuff was pretty straightforward because youcould touch it, move it around, hand it over to your friends and assigna sense of permanence to it. Yet, as the content we purchase or creategets caught up in the digital silo, this sense of materialitydisappears. As a result, turning these digital artifacts into tangiblekeepsakes is a service that will gain increasing value, especially whenthat media has personal significance. This is where print can excel.
Transforming bits into physical objects
Recently, there has been a quick rise in companies aiming to preservemeaningful digital content in a physical form. Examples include Peechomerchants like PastBookand Printsgram,who are working with us to print beautiful photo albums and home decorobjects from social media photos. As people continue to value objectsthat they can freely pass on to their loved ones and engage with on aphysical level, these type of on demand digital print services willbecome more commonplace.This of course doesn’t’ mean we can forego copyright laws, but with theright print infrastructure in place, digital content cannot only bereadily transformed into objects but is also open to new monetizationmodels. And this is exactly what Peechois about, helping companies and digital publishers monetize theircontent by making the internet real.