Flexible Displays Technology in Printed Media

The concept of journalism cannot be discussed outside of technological progress’ framework – it is namely after the invention of the printing press had taken place, that it became possible to turn the process of providing people with latest news into a money-generating professional practice. Nowadays, it has become the matter of even greater importance for journalists to think of their professional opportunities as such that closely relate to the specifics of technological progress, due to the fact that during the course of 21st century, this progress is expected to assume exponential subtleties. In this paper, we will aim at exploring how the emergence of flexible displays (FD) technology will affect the imagined “future community” and the concept of journalism in general.

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Given the fact that Western societies continue to grow ever-more marginalized, due to the demographic fabric of these societies having undergone a dramatic transformation (multiculturalism), we are now in position of outlining foremost existential principles, upon which the functioning of urbanite “future community” will be based in 20-30 years from now:

  1. The members of this community will be divided into “technicians” and “workers”. While consisting of only 10% of such a community, “technicians” will be fully responsible for maintaining the community’s socio-technological infrastructure. On the other hand, “workers’” primary task will be providing “technicians” with physical labor. As a result, the scopes of informational needs, on the part of “technicians” and “workers”, will drift apart increasingly. In order for an individual to be able to function as a “technician”, he or she will need to be constantly connected to a variety of informational mediums, such as Internet and TV. On the other hand, “workers’” informational needs will eventually become solely concerned with entertainment.
  2. The “future community” will be characterized by a high degree of technological mindedness, on the part of “technicians”, and by the absence of thereof, on the part of “workers”. In its turn, this will imply that “technicians” will be able to control the technical aspects of how information of being transferred to “workers” and also such information’s actual content.
  3. Given the high rate of existential competitiveness among “technicians’ ‘, they will constantly seek for innovative ways of gaining access to latest political, financial and technological news. In its turn, this will result in invention of revolutionary media delivery technologies. One of such technologies, namely flexible displays FD (as seen in “Minority Report” movie), will be discussed in this paper.

In her article “Flexible Displays Closer to Reality, Thanks to U.S. Army”, Priya Ganapati provides us with the insight on how flexible displays technology works: “The displays have thin-film transistor arrays on specialty polymer and thin stainless-steel substrates and use electrophoretic ink (E Ink), among other technologies, to render the characters. Once a polarized electric field is applied, the particles move to the top or the bottom of the microcapsule, depending on the polarity of the charge. Alternating between the white and the black particles helps render characters and images on the screen” (Ganapati 2008). By applying electricity to flexible displays, we can have a variety of texts and images appearing on the screen within a matter of an instant. And, the most important – given displays’ film-like thinness, they can be rolled up and folded, in the way we do with newspapers. Moreover, they can also be easily disposed of, because of these displays’ manufacturing costs being projected to account for only a fraction of that of LCD displays. Thus, after having bought a newspaper with flexible displays, a person will be able to read about the news in the making.

The flexible displays, while being incorporated in printed Medias, such as newspapers, will significantly increase the degree of such Medias’ operational responsiveness. As we are all aware of, it is namely people with high IQ who continue to indulge in reading, as the essential part of their existential mode; whereas, people with low IQ are being psychologically averted from reading as something utterly “boring”. Therefore, the development and eventual implementation of flexible displays technology will benefit primarily “technicians”, as people endowed with ability for operate with abstract categories. In its turn, this will create additional preconditions for our “future community” to remain highly hierarchical, thus reducing the amount of social entropy within such a community. For as long as continuous welfare of printed Medias is concerned, the implementation of flexible displays technology will allow them to significantly increase its competitiveness, as compared to other informational mediums.

One of the main characteristics of flexible displays technology is that it is very simple to use. Unlike what it is the case with today’s sensor-screen devices, which had become particularly popular among “white collars” (they will form the caste of “technicians” in the future), flexible displays will not require an individual to possess even the basic computer skills, in order to be able to use them. Just about anyone would be able to buy a newspaper, open it up and to begin reading it in truly interactive manner – that is, the textual and visual information contained in newspaper, besides being constantly updated, will also be adjusted to address the reader’s informational needs. The text and images would be presented to readers in full format, which will eventually bring an end to the process of cell phones and PDAs acquiring the status of informational mediums, as it is the case today. In its turn, this will revive newspapers (e-papers) as one of the most important Medias. In his article “EPaper: the Flexible Electronic Display of the Future”, Geoff Daily is making perfectly good point when he states: “One thing that people tend to forget is that part of the reason that older people don’t gravitate towards PDAs, etc., is because they can’t read the display, Epaper is going to open up that market” (Daily 2005, p. 39). Thus, there are very few reasons for us to doubt an absolutely realistic prospect of FD (flexible displays) acquiring the status of fully legitimate informational technology in near future.

As we have stated earlier, our “future community” will consist of “technicians” and “workers”. And, it is only “technicians” that will retain their ability to take practical utilization of reading, while addressing life’s challenges. Therefore, flexible displays technology, while being simple to use, on one hand, will also be characterized by specifics of its appeal to the intended audience, on the other. We can say that flexible display technology will do to “technicians” exactly what today’s entertainment TV does to intellectually marginalized citizens – it keeps then well within their social niche.

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In the near future, it is only individual’s ability to act as the agent of technological progress, which will account for his chances to attain social prominence. And, there is only one way for such an individual to qualify for it – to posses high IQ. In its turn, the possession of high IQ, on the part of just about anyone, cannot be imagined without this person being endowed with a strong taste for reading and indulging in variety of academic activities. However, the recent sociological surveys invariably point out to the fact that the representatives of fastest growing ethnic community in U.S. (Hispanics) are being marked by their strong distaste towards intellectual pursuits of any sort. As it appears from report “Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000”, available on the web site of National Center for Education Statistics: “The percentage of 16- through 24-year-olds who were dropouts in 2000 accounted for 27.8%” (NCES 2002). As of 2007, the high school dropout rate among Hispanics accounted for 35% and it continues to increase, as time goes by. In other words, there are many objective reasons for American society to become affected by intellectual disparity among its members to the point when it will cease to be egalitarian, simply because the proportion of illiterate citizens in the U.S. increases in exponential progression. This suggestion confirms the validity of our suggestion as to metaphysical foundation, upon which “future community” will be based in few decades from now.

Given what has been said earlier, the major implication of flexible display technology being used for informational purposes appear being quite clear – it is namely “technicians”, who will be able to take full advantage of this technology, simply because of their ability to operate with highly abstract terms, which in its turn causes them to resort to reading as the method of obtaining information. Thus, when FD technology attains legitimacy as informational medium, it is highly unlikely that it will be primarily used to provide people with entertainment, as it had happened to Television and Internet, during the course of recent years.

The foremost innovation that is going to be offered by flexible display technology, when being incorporated in printed Medias, is high operational responsiveness. That is, after having bought a newspaper with FD, people will be able to follow the latest news in the making. And, it is namely the individuals whose professional duties involve making executive decisions within an organization, who more then anybody else depend on being constantly updated as to the most latest political, social and economic developments. This is why the implementation of FD technology will mainly benefit those who we currently refer to as “white collars” and to whom we will end up referring to as “technicians” in the future.

The most important reason why the owners of today’s printed Medias will be tempted to utilize FD technology in their newspapers as soon as it becomes available is because this technology would also offer virtually limitless possibilities for targeted advertising. In the same article from which we have already quoted, Geoff Daily says: “For advertisers, e-paper will be a major enabler of the movement towards contextual, personalized advertising” (Daily 2005, p. 40). As we are all aware of, it is namely personalized advertisements, which are believed to be the most effective ones. Therefore, flexible screen technology is very likely to begin being utilized within newspapers, even before it becomes fully refined – the advertisement opportunities offered by this technology would outweigh any other considerations, on the part of Medias’ owners.

Given earlier outlined particularities of our “future community” as being based on rigidly hierarchical principles, it would be logical to suggest that the implementation of FD technology in Medias will provide “technicians” with additional tool of social control. As we all know, the semantic subtleties of textual information imply that it can be interpreted in a variety of different ways. For example, people of limited intelligence think of Biblical fables in terms of being the literal truth. The enlightened individuals, on the other hand, read Bible as book containing hidden codes. What it means is that, after having read essentially the same text, different people can run into opposite conclusions as to the text’s actual meaning. Therefore, after FD technology attains informational status, it will be only the matter of time before representatives of elites (in our case, “technicians”) would resort to it, in order to strengthen their dominance over the rest of society’s members even to a greater extent. This is especially likely to be the case in community where only very “workers” will possess reading skills.

The eventual socio-political and economic effects that will derive out introduction of FD technology can be best described as being rather vast. In his article “Flexible Displays Set to Go Mainstream”, Roger Alan states: “Anticipated mass-market applications of flexible displays technology include newspapers, books, and magazines as alternatives to paper; point-of-sale (POS) terminals; outdoor and indoor signage; smart cards; and labeling for retail shelves. Market research company iSuppli Corp. expects the flexible-display market to ramp up from nearly nothing today to about $338 million by 2013” (Alan 2007, p. 57). As soon as FD gadgets hit the market, they will instantly cause LCD technology to become utterly outdated. Printed newspapers will gradually be replaced by FD newspapers, which will mark the beginning of yet another informational revolution. The flow of information directed at citizens will intensify dramatically. In its turn, this will eventually result in changing the informational matrix Western societies.

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At the same time, it would be wrong to think of introduction of FD technology as such that will result in more and more people being allowed to have an unrestricted access to information, as it has been the case with introduction of Internet, because only well-established Media corporations are going to be in position of utilizing this technology to stream information. Thus, whatever the illogical it might sound – the process of FD applications acquiring a status of new type of Media will not improve situation with citizens being able to take the full advantage of their constitutional right of freedom of speech. Just as it has been shown in “Minority Report” movie, future society will grow increasingly oppressive, despite the process of such society’s informational realm acquiring three-dimensional properties.

This suggestion validates our earlier thesis as to the “future community” as such that will consist of “technicians” and “workers”. Whereas, “workers” will not be able to oppose “technicians”, because of their existential mode is being concerned primarily with the matters of entertainment, “technicians” will also not be tempted to change the existing state of affairs within a community, because newly emerged methods of transferring information, such as FD technology, will strengthen the degree of these people’s corporate solidarity even further. Thus, it appears that our “future community’s” foremost characteristics will account for technological advancement among “technicians”, on one hand, and for utter technological illiteracy among “workers”, on another. The introduction of e-newspapers will intensify the discrepancy between “workers” and “technicians’” informational needs, while creating a situation when representatives of different social classes within a community will eventually realize that they have nothing in common with each other, in informational context of this word.

As time goes by, more and more Media products in Western countries are being specifically made to target racially-distinctive groups of people. For example, it is mainly because of cinematographic enthusiasm, on the part of Hispanic movie-goers, that 2006 movie “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift” had instantly became a blockbuster, despite being plain dull. In his article “Marketing to Hispanics”, Chris Gardner says: “Hispanics constitute 14% of the U.S. population, but they accounted for almost a third of the opening weekend audience for “The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (Gardner 2006, p. 1). Therefore, we can only discuss socio-political and economic implications of introduction of FD Media technology, for as long as representatives of social elites, capable of abstract theorizing, are being concerned. It is namely these people (“technicians”), who in the future will do away with “multiculturalism” in its present form, simply because by being able to utilize newly emerging informational technologies (such as FD) to their immediate advantage, “technicians” will eventually rise to the position of being able to impose just about any social or political policy upon “workers”, without having to deal with any resistance on their part, whatsoever – historical dialectics fully substantiate the validity of such our conclusion.

Bibliography

Allan, R. (2007). Flexible displays set to go mainstream. Electronic Design. 55 (10), 57-8, 60, 62-3.

Daily, G. (2005). EPaper: The flexible electronic display of the future. EContent. 28 (3), 36-41.

Ganapati, P. (2008). Flexible displays closer to reality, thanks to U.S. army. Gadget Lab. Web.

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Gardner, C. (2006). Marketing to Hispanics. Variety. 403 (10),1, 37.

National Center for Education Statistics (2002). Dropout rates in the United States: 2000. Web.

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