Understanding technology seems to be much less important than it used to be. Stuff works in our industry because the graphic arts industry has benefited from years of technological innovation, combined with practical experience that has been fed back into research and development for new kit. This is why prepress can be fully automated and computer-to-plate production is so widespread in developed markets. Both technologies have contributed to the substantial reduction in print’s carbon footprint over the last couple of decades.
In another life I was addicted to horse racing, especially the dangerous jumping variety. As a teenager I imagined someday riding in the Grand National, the world’s greatest steeplechase. Instead I find myself riding in an altogether different kind of race. But there are some curious similarities between fast and thrilling horse riding and negotiating the constantly changing landscape of matters environmental in the graphic arts.
We started the Verdigris blog in 2012 just before a highly successful drupa and here we are with the 100th, just following IPEX. If anyone had ever considered that there was a battle underway between the two exhibitions, it would have to be said that drupa has won hands-down. Big name exhibitors such as Ricoh and Kodak abandoned the show en masse rendering it pretty much untenable as an exhibition. This was great for those remaining such as Konica Minolta and Fujifilm, but as a global platform for print, IPEX disappointed. Despite a last ditch effort to turn it into a content driven event there was no overriding theme for IPEX, no echo for the future. Worst of all, sustainability was hardly whispered, despite a barely populated area on the show floor called the EcoZone.
When ISO 16759 was published in July 2013 expectations were mixed. Would the market really care or was this standard ahead of its time? Given the state of the economy pretty much everywhere, the more realistic expectation was that it would be received to general apathy. Interest in environmental matters for the graphic arts was also on the wane, so carbon footprinting for print media was probably low on most company agendas. In our dreams (sad I know) we hoped that the market would respond enthusiastically. We hoped that we would see a widespread blossoming of carbon calculators for print media compliant with ISO 16759’s requirements.
There are many things that scientists love, but probably none more so than acronyms and absolutes, such as DC for Direct Current or PDF for Portable Document Format. Neither could be anything else, but even though scientists love to deal in absolutes, environmental science is notoriously inexact. Climate change and environmental impact evaluation make absolutism all but impossible: there are just so many variables.