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February 20, 2015

Turning the Page on Paper News

We always knew that digital delivery was part of The 3000 NewsWire mission. We branded our publication with the word “wire” because that’s what the world understood in 1995 about anything beyond printed information. 

Closing in on 20 years later, it’s time to unplug from print. The change has been inevitable, a lot like many changes for the 3000 community’s members. It also mirrors the way information and content moves today: virtually without wires.

News bundlesIn the year that my wife Abby and I started the NewsWire, using wires was essential to staying connected. Our computers were wired to the network, the modem wired to the computer. Our music came to us over a CD player wired up to a stereo receiver, and the receiver was wired to our big honking speakers.

Today it’s all wireless, and starting after this month's Winter issue, just mailed, we’ll be all paperless. Our music and computing has gained flexibility and speed while it shed its wires. Going paperless and wireless amount to the same thing: embracing a new, fluid future for what we need.

When I started writing this news resource, I had to be connected via wires just to make a paper product. Now we can send and receive information with no wires to speak of, except for those in the datacenters where our information is stored and exchanged. The laptop is wireless, tablets and phones are wire-free. So can build on what we’ve shared for close to 20 years using no paper. Even the invoicing has gone all-digital.

We still love paper here. There’s no future that I can see where paper won’t be a special medium for consuming and enjoying some stories. But for news, and things that evolve, digital delivery is the flexible choice for 2015 and beyond.

No, this isn’t our end-of-life notice. But after more than 8 million mailed pages since 1995, we can go farther with digital delivery.

The world of the NewsWire beyond print is just as real as the years of 3000 life after the Hewlett-Packard announcement of 2001. We’ve printed far more issues and dispensed more news since the week of that November notice than before it. For 13 years afterward, print issues of the NewsWire have rolled off a press. Instead, this transition for us is a total commitment to what’s been our primary medium for more than nine years.

Our print issue readers have been enjoying and archiving paper copies since before there was Google, Amazon, or Apple’s iPod. We’re just following the lead of countless news outlets who’ve transcended their boundaries of column inches and the limits of page counts that they had to bind within covers.

Print has been important, so crucial to our work that growing into this moment never would have been possible without the many pages mailed across three different decades. By our accounting, we’ve sent more than 8.5 million pages into worldwide postal systems, as well as distributed at shows, since the year when Lew Platt was a new CEO at HP.

When Abby and I launched this venture during the prior century, no digital-only information resource could be taken seriously. A website? You had to be more than that. After more than a generation, the picture has flipped — enough that an evolution to all-digital confirms the view that what’s important is what’s written and shown, regardless of its medium.

It’s a transition that’s akin to what the 3000 is going through this year and beyond, as the aging HP hardware starts to cross over into cloud virtualization. We once needed print as much as MPE needed PA-RISC chips. Now each is a throwback. Your market still wants to look forward.

Even with all of that certain strategy, this was not an easy step to take. Abby and I grew our careers in the era of printed publishing. The smell of fresh ink on crisp paper — whether it was newsprint like the tabloids such as the HP Chronicle where I started, or the 60-pound white stock of the NewsWire — still triggers a rising heartbeat and a tug at heartstrings.

When we rolled off the press in 1995, we loved paper as much as we loved immediacy, the certainty that we offered as much as anyone could know on the day we printed. Just as we shipped off Issue No. 1, we created the FlashPaper, a last-minute roundup of the latest 3000 reports on a stuffed-in, goldenrod-colored sheet. Not long after that, we went to e-mail delivery of other stories in an Online Extra. It’s been a great ride to push the paper this far.

12:46 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink

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