The Future of Print

In a funny and fascinating essay marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Grantland’s Brian Phillips wrote recently about how the show predicted (and failed to predict) our relationships with technology. Phillips mostly focused on the role of computer networks, but much has been made over the years about Star Trek‘s influence on such modern wonders as the flip phone and the tablet computer. The MakerBot is a far cry from the show’s “matter replicators,” but NASA may be on its way to sending 3-D printers to space. So that’s a step in the right direction.

One thing that Star Trek: The Next Generation managed to predict accurately was slick touchscreen user interfaces. Unlike the original Star Trek, the 90’s version dispensed with clunky knobs and buttons. In that regard, a major leap toward the printing press of the future can be seen in the control panel of the Landa “nanographic” printing press. This machine debuted to much fanfare earlier this year at the Drupa print media technology fair. You can learn all about it on the company’s website, but just check out its remarkably Trektastic interface:

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“not impressed.”

Of course, we can safely assume that there probably won’t be any printing presses left in the 24th century. Who knows, maybe the Federation’s East Coast elitists will continue to maintain a nostalgic desire for a paper version of the New York Times. In any case, it’s a safe bet that their morning paper will not be produced by some guy pressing buttons.

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Categories: Critical Discourse, Current Events

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