Print – The 4th Dimension

The Internet is a wonderful and amazing resource. Literally, it’s an infinite entity of information, stories and pictures. Websites with links that lead you from one piece of information to the next drawing you ever further into the digital ether. It becomes compulsive: everyone has experienced the irresistible nature of digital, from the constant checking of social media and the news to sports results and entertainment gossip. How often have we looked up one story, only to be distracted by another story, and then another and then another? From going online to find out how to construct a pivot table, we find ourselves three hours later knowledgeable in the secret art of origami flamingos and how to ‘whisper’ to elephants (and probably viewed a few cute cat videos along the way). Chances are, we’ve still no idea how to construct that pivot table, though!

And therein lays the inherent issue with digital. There is no structure to it – the vagaries of our own imaginations can lead us off into the ether, lost for hours on a fruitless quest that started out with good intentions, but whose point became forgotten in the endless possibilities that is the internet. When there are endless possibilities, it’s easy to lose focus, and then we become bored: there’s so much information, we simply cannot be bothered.

Perhaps the realisation of this is why print is coming back into vogue. Once thought to be limited in their scope, books, leaflets, brochures and magazines have a beginning, middle and an end. Whether they’re educational or informative, industry-based or lifestyle focussed, they give the reader a finite amount of reading. The reader is attracted by the cover, is lead through the pages of editorial comment, stories and advertisements, and then drawn into the final page. Cover closed, the reader receives a sense of closure and derives from it, a sense of both accomplishment and achievement.

There is a proven advantage of the printed page having a presence, employing not only the senses of touch and sight but also the smell of the ink, the sound of the pages turning. It’s a far more holistic experience than clicking a mouse or trackpad as we navigate the ether. Advances in technology have added a new dimension to the printed word in the form of items such as QR codes and personalised URLs that can be scanned, directing the reader to additional information, or providing moving images that augment the experience of the written word. The interactive features have allowed print to move from the three-dimensional world to the four-dimensional, without adding the infinite, daunting limitlessness of infinity the Internet provides. As such, advertisers have an excellent opportunity to command the imagination of a captured audience that is already involved in a world sandwiched between two cover pages. In the war for consumer’s attention, the printed page is fighting back!

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