Just a quick post to point to a post by freelance media journalist Jon Slattery at the Media Briefing, about an insight he recently had about the permanence of digital versus the fleeting nature of print. You read that right.
Sure, print feels real in your hand, and digital is just so many photons on a screen that die when you run out of battery. But good luck finding the paper the next day – especially if you’ve been taking the dog for a walk – while you can (theoretically at least) always find a digital story somewhere in the electronic archive.
But talking to journalism students recently at the London College of Communication , where they work on a weekly college newspaper and online, I was struck how for many of them digital has a permanence that print doesn’t.
One said of digital: “It is an archive, whereas print is ephemeral.”
The students, quite rightly, see the importance of building up an online archive of their college work, blogs and articles they may have done on work experience which they can email in one click to a prospective employer, rather than a book of yellowing print cuttings.
Sounds obvious, but clearly it isn’t – at least not yet – to a fair number of people in our business.
We’re been so focused on the idea of speed and reach on digital that we often forget about the value of its (potential) permanence. We find ways to work faster and faster and speed information to people at ever quicker-rates. And as a result we don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about how best to build the tools, structures, stories – and products – that really take advantage of the accumulation of information over time.