Ultraist Studios Blog Journal

January 30, 2009

Papernet

Filed under: Essays — M Kitchen @ 3:55 pm

Here is a word Warren Ellis told me via Bad Signal:  Papernet.

And it intreged me.  What is a “papernet”?

As Warren described it;

” … my interest in this revolves around making printers spit out sheets of paper with interesting things to look at and read on them.”

Before that Warren typed;

” Way, way back when, I suggested a model for the conversation about comics to bypass the then fairly fossilised working channels for such. Create a short magazine in simple black-and-white PDF and make it freeware, so that anyone could print it off. And ask people to print off a bunch and dump them in comics stores. (As opposed to the “glossy” high-end PDF-mag model we have today, which in those days was represented by an attractive, dense PDF mag called BORDERLINE.)

Years later, I condensed the idea down to a broadside model, which Alert Nerd adopted and Ectomo experimented with. But it shares the same thing in common — it’s about spitting paper at the other end. It’s also about creating objects where none existed before.

The broadside, one-sheet model can be broken down a little further. Anyone knows you can fold one sheet into a four-face booklet. You can get even more complicated than that, but, you know, I drink precisely so no-one asks me to do things involving fine motor skills.

Aaron Cope sees a “social letterbox.” I see a box that spits out Things that require only minimal assembly at best. Broadsheets and pamphlets, a one-sheet culture. Emailable. Printable. Minimal.”

More tangental ideas on printed blogs here:

made the astute point of;

To be honest, I see paper as creating an ‘artifact’ rather than just a way of getting info out there, making something disposable for me just means something else to fill up my bin when I’m done with it.

Now – books or comics that read better on paper and might want to be kept would be something else, but how much would a decent repo of that cost?

Followed up by :

The “artifact” part of this experiment’s got to be the point, because otherwise it’s just sentimental resource-wasting. I mean, you want something to read *later in the same day*? That’s exactly the reason *not* to put it on paper. If you want to read it later today just leave the damn browser window open or email it to your iPhone or something.

“Things our friends have written on the internet” actually has a purpose as an artifact. It’s a curated printed souvenir of the year that I’ll look back at in two or three years, and will probably enjoy that it’s yellowed and faded a bit.

And all this got my brain cylinders firing.  As intriguing as the concept of a social letter box and micro print on demand is, my initial vision upon hearing the word “papernet” wasn’t just of a box that spurts out paper from a computer.  It was something much larger than that, although I can see how the micro POD could play a part in the larger picture.  No, what I envisioned was this…

Pieces of paper interconnected creating a vast network of information in what is essentially a low tech paper and ink version of the internet.  A steampunk version of the world wide web.

More than just a library (although a library could certainly serve as an information hub) this network exists as the result of each piece of paper linking to another, whether it is through the binding formatting a stack of individual pages into a codex, or footnotes or a bibliography linking to other works, or other forms of recommendations.  We see this in comics through letters pages, and editorial comments, and in-story footnotes referencing earlier issues of the serial format itself.  We can even see this in music via insert pamphlets archiving lyrics, and photos and other related art and articles.

The key element here in the forming of a papernet, is the linking of one piece of paper containing information, to another.

Not only does this papernet exist in the real world as paper and ink artifacts, if Internet 2 were to become a reality and net neutrality were lost, perhaps it is this papernet that would fill the gap to become the replacement.  What was old becomes new again.

-

2 Comments »

  1. PS. Here is the Bad Signal transmission that started this thought process:

    bad signal
    ME

    The “papernet” — and I suspect the borders of the
    definition are already becoming fuzzy — begins from
    the stance that paper is still really useful and a nice
    thing to have. Written language is the original cultural
    virus, because you can pass that fucker around.

    You can read this, for some background:

    http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=6670

    The Papernet Stance says that sometimes you
    want the internet to spit out a bit of paper. Not
    least because it remains a pain in the arse for
    every given location to spit out a file to every
    mobile device — and, even more importantly, because
    not everyone has a mobile device.

    Why does this even matter? Well, I don’t know about
    you, but I’m in the business of moving ideas around.
    So if someone I know fired out a PDF of a single
    page that was a broadside, a folded four-page
    pamphlet or even, per Elizabeth Genco, an 8pp
    minizine

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/elizabethgenco/sets/72157594276405114/

    I’d be interested in that. There can be powerful
    reasons why something needs to be experienced
    in pages, and there can be useful reasons why I’d
    want to leave the house with a printed folded sheet
    of paper in my pocket.

    And there will always be people who donate time and
    toner to running off those things, in locations far
    distant from the creator, and giving them away.

    Of course, one day, we’ll be able to print them off at
    home on indestructible Tyvek, so the only evidence of
    human life on this planet in a million years’ time will
    be your minicomic of a hobbit cornholing someone
    from Battlestar Galactica.

    - W

    Comment by M Kitchen — February 5, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  2. More from Warren Ellis:

    http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=7232

    Comment by M Kitchen — April 24, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

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