Friday, December 11, 2009

An academic, relatively boring, description of the Printernet

The Printernet is the Cloud based network that connects printing enterprises around the world.

It is massive parallel manufacturing with standards-based interfaces, real time production information and easy access for everyone. Each printer — the combination of the machinery and the intelligence that manages the machinery — is a print output node. Each node is both part of the network and self-sufficient. When the nodes are working together mass customization of print product becomes commonplace at previously impossible speeds and quantities.

The Printernet has three moving parts; the OEM, the OPM and the VAR.

The OEM manufactures, distributes and continuously improves the machinery and supplies necessary to print. The OPM - original product manufacturer uses the machinery and adds the intelligence and supplies to manufacture print. The VAR works with the end user to select the most appropriate products and software to create a new value for the customer. The customer supplies the energy, usually but not always, in the form of money, to power the whole thing.

Managing the network falls to the UNF - the user network facilitator. This function is primarily self evolving, but as the network matures will be increasingly taken on by formal organizations and enterprises.

The Battle of the Titans is for the number 1,2 and 3 UNF positions.

Like all resilient networks each level is self sufficient
A printernet can have a self sufficient presence in a school building or a school district. The UNF/VAR is the MPS. The OEM are the MFP manufacturers. The MPS chooses the most appropriate hardware and software for that specific local situation. Each is different in the details. Each is the same at the conceptual level. Print from the Cloud is enabled at the desktop, the workgroup or the CRD within the organization.

The new experience occurs when the school based printernet is seamlessly connected to commercial printernets. At that point production equipment is clipped on as a print output node - an OPM. That allows yearbooks, student newspapers and textbooks to be pulled from the ground and delivered in print in very close to real time.

The local commercial OPM is connected to a regional printernet. Newspapers can accumulate content in the Cloud on an ongoing basis consistent with the way that events occur in real time. When interest based communities form, the appropriate content is pulled from the Cloud and print manufacturing occurs to satisfy that particular interest. The VAR are the reporters and editors. Their job is know which slice of information is interesting to what group. They use their experience, website + transinfo analytics and web 2.0 to identify and anticipate the emergence of communities of interest.

The regional printernet is connected to the global printernet. From the Cloud the physical location of the OPM is irrelevant. Space and time disappear as a limiting factor on distribution of print product. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can originate content. Any OPM anywhere can manufacture the print product that captures that information. VARs are distributed all over the planet. Pulling just the right content in just the right format at the just the right time for just the right person.


  1. Michael,

    >>It was always about Print's ability to fix information in time and make it available in human space.

    This brings to mind a quote that I saw somewhere - "Products are crystallized conversations."

    I think the extrusion of objects from the data flow is a good, trackable way to map key milestones and inflection points. As long as there is a cost involved, the printed object stands out as a signifier of a valued (by someone) interim pause point in the otherwise ongoing, frictionless interplay of voices in the conversation.

    Perhaps the Printnets could track and share info on such milestone points, so that data miners and archivists could better manage their content?


    Mark Frazier
    @openworld @buildership (Twitter)

  2. Thanks the visit.

    Yes. We see it the same way. The new ability of 2d codes to connect to the cloud supplies just the data stream you to which you are pointing.

    I did a column back in May that should illustrate what I think I'm seeing.

    In my focus field of education and learning, it means real time data on when a student engages with the ideas in print. The application is prosaic but in my opinion game changing.

    It allows a teacher, with no additional teacher time spent, to be able to say, "Johnny, I noticed that you didn't go the full story. Is there a problem I should know about?"

    My hypothesis, backed up by disparate data points and the insights earned from the Hawthorne Effect that the mere knowledge that a teacher is watching will result in better compliance.

    Until the compliance problem is solved learning cannot move in it's natural path.

  3. Hmm...intriguing point. I'm a fan of peer pressure to provide most of the ongoing "watching" - for the same reason that neighborhood watches often do better in reducing victimization rates than stepping up the frequency of cops visiting a block. Grameen Bank has some cool ways for lending group member to keep each other motivated.

    I'm very interested in finding ways for Openworld and kindreds to come up with challenge offers for groups of kids to co-create learning breakthroughs. I've sketched out opportunities for this at and The comment here outlines a way that microscholarships could spark a sustainable grassroots-up revolution in learning, much as Grameen achieved in microfinance.

    I'd love to explore what we might do along these lines in the US and/or overseas. I'm likely to be in NY at sometime Jan/February - look forward to the prospect of meeting and mapping ways to turn ideas to action.



  4. Good news about you being in New York. Just a note, my problem with peer pressure in drop outs in high school is that peers are often self selected with the same lack of time horizon. So "acting up" actually gets proximate rewards.

    It's the bad part of the good/bad nature of tribes.

    In general I think peer pressure works best in the presence of equal power relationships. When a tribe forms in a power vacuum it can get pretty dysfunctional pretty fast.

    I think that's the extraordinary luck of a Martin Luther King or a Ghandi. The white radicals of the 60's didn't have a grown up. My take is that is why they devolved into whatever it is they became.