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10-09-2012

What Bruce Willis tells us about digital media and the future of print

Early last week, the UK’s Daily
Mail
reported that Bruce Willis was considering legal action against
Apple for the right to hand down his iTunes music collection to his
daughters. The news has already been discredited
by the actor’s wife but whether it’s true or not, it has sparked quite a
gripping discussion about ownership rights and the gifting digital
assets.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how this relates to the future
of print. Well, print has long been the technology of choice for turning
abstract information into physical objects. While this is changing
because of the internet – with its efficiency and convenience- the Bruce
Willis tale reminds us how we sometimes just wish the digital media we
consume could feel more real. Here’s why…

‘Owning’ bit-based media


Legally speaking, we don’t actually own the iTunes songs or ebooks we
purchase online. We rent a license to use them. People are starting to
catch on to this fact, as they realize that they can’t easily pass on
their digi-goods to their loved ones like they would a physical book or
a record. Now, there are a few ways
you can get around this, say if you want to make sure your kids can
access your Facebook photos or Kindle books after your death. Some of
these options are more expensive and legit than others. But the fact of
the matter is that as more of the media we consume goes online, we’re
starting to struggle with its intangible and transitory nature.

Until recently, owning stuff was pretty straightforward because you
could touch it, move it around, hand it over to your friends and assign
a sense of permanence to it. Yet, as the content we purchase or create
gets caught up in the digital silo, this sense of materiality
disappears. As a result, turning these digital artifacts into tangible
keepsakes is a service that will gain increasing value, especially when
that 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 preserve
meaningful digital content in a physical form. Examples include Peecho
merchants like PastBook
and Printsgram,
who are working with us to print beautiful photo albums and home decor
objects from social media photos. As people continue to value objects
that they can freely pass on to their loved ones and engage with on a
physical level, these type of on demand digital print services will
become more commonplace.

This of course doesn’t’ mean we can forego copyright laws, but with the
right print infrastructure in place, digital content cannot only be
readily transformed into objects but is also open to new monetization
models. And this is exactly what Peecho
is about, helping companies and digital publishers monetize their
content by making the internet real.

Jolien

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