What options are there to present information?
So, what do business people do these days to document and present their information?
- MS Word (and its equivalents)
- PowerPoint, Death by (and its equivalents)
- 3D presentations (and the accompanying confusion)
- Augmented Reality (if you have the hardware as well)
- Pdfs or a flipbook
- Video (from actual movie files to “Biteable” snippets)
- Code on a website
- And…print (again)
The preference, to save money and resources, is to make everything digital and simply put the information on a website. This works on 3 assumptions:
- The platform is steady.
- The info is stored by regular downloads of the source code file.
- All the people you want to communicate with know to go to that website for the information.
This has resulted in two main problems:
- Your information and its availability is in the hards of some faceless corporation and it might be discontinued at any time. Facebook does not love you. Nor does Instagram or Tumblr or anything.
- When your information gets old, it will disappear off the Internet. This phenomenon has resulted in the development of something called the Wayback Machine.
What happens when your web info gets old
The Wayback Machine is an Internet Archive of cached web pages (pages with old data or data stored elsewhere) that was started in 1996, with the goal of making the service public five years later in 2001. By the time the Wayback Machine launched, it already contained over 10 billion archived pages. Today, more than 384 billion web pages have been saved and are stored on the Internet Archive’s large cluster of Linux nodes. Its crawl engines revisit and archive new versions of websites on occasion. Sites can also be captured manually by entering a website’s URL into the search box, provided that the website allows the Wayback Machine to “crawl” it and save the data.
What this means is that, at some point, your outdated, unrefreshed old website will end up cached and in the records of the Wayback Machine. If you search for a really old article or piece of information, you might find that it pops up on the Wayback Machine website. As the saying goes, there is no way to really be forgotten on the Internet.
If it’s not on the Internet, where is it?
While the Wayback Machine is an effort to capture and keep electronic information that might otherwise be lost, it is not an actual library. Even the Wayback Machine itself might fall victim to being lost and forgotten. People have realized that they need to preserve what they have developed or created. Now, in stead of writing blogs to document their work, they are also printing their blogs.
Blog-to-book via print-on-demand
There are quite a few blog-to-book services that allow you to get books printed from the contents of your blog posts. I do not mean creating contents online or wherever, and then redesigning, rewriting and editing that and producing an actual printed book, on Amazon or Blurb, for instance. I mean simply letting the the printing company download your blog’s code and print it with minimal changes. What is clear is that your book will be precisely what you had on your blog – mistakes and all. Hyperlinks, for instance, are converted to QR codes for readers to scan with their phone – awkward. The look will only be as good as the quality of the graphics in your posts, including the featured images which will display as headers.
After having tried a few of these services, my preference is for Pixxibook, the trading name of UK-registered Bitlific Ltd., which uses a fairly simple interface to print out your blog’s code using print-on-demand. They can download your site’s blog posts from Wordpress, Blogger, Squarespace, Wix or Tumblr. Just like Vistaprint, which is headquartered in Venlo, The Netherlands, Pixxibook also uses a Dutch (Barendrecht, The Netherlands) print-on-demand/web2print service, called Cloudprinter.
Cloudprinter.com lets e-commerce service providers, apps and enterprises send any print job, data or content to Cloudprinter.com Print API (Application Programming Interface) which then prints it by making use of printers located around the world.
This is one option I would recommend for any business or author wanting a print product from online data.
Does the end result – a hard cover, printed book, justify the cost?
In my case, I printed volume 1 of potentially 6 volumes of more than 300 pages each. The blog I was printing has more than 3000 pages, more than 217 posts, mostly long reads, written over more than 7 years. The blog posts include reviews of almost 200 books. The end result was a nicely printed hardcover book with legible font, good thickness of paper, and an interesting variety of layouts.
People have commented that web2print does not provide a decent ROI. I can understand that, but ROI is not why many people print their blogs. Here are my reasons:
I printed my blog because I believe that the only permanent form of recording information is in hard copy. I do not believe that what I write is particularly brilliant, but it is a lot. And getting it printed is the only permanent way of preserving my thoughts, however mediocre they might be. The same goes for any author or artist – you have to make your work concrete to give it longevity. Artistic works are ways that people have of leaving something behind when they die – something that talks about their achievements. A website, even a memorial site on Facebook, is for long but not forever.