Thursday, 17 September 2009

Espresso (but not coffee) (that is to say, an ATM for books)

I first heard of this machine in 2001, when I was studying for my Master in Publishing in Madrid. Everyone feared the advent of the beast - it would lead to the destruction of an entire sector of production. Distributors were terrified that large pieces of their action would go up in smoke as processes radically changed. They were probably right.

Wherever you look, Google is there. Whatever you see, Google wants you to see it through them.

And thus it is that the company would appear to be unmanageably disparate in its focus and future.

But the truth of the matter is that they are currently about as right as you can get. Better access to information is what ties their mission together. Whether it's books, whether it's search results, whether it's pictures or videos, Google wants to help you find more effectively.

Will they resist the temptation to tie you into proprietorial systems? I think we've moved on from there. I think they have no choice, because, most precisely, we have more choice than ever before.

Google will not be a Microsoft of the 21st century for not even Microsoft will manage to achieve that feat. If you don't believe me, try this kind of story on for size. It's not the only one - there are plenty more of these under the radar, if you care to look beyond the press releases organisations like the BBC are regularly happy to publish as hard news. There was one just the other day which talked about how the "powerful" chips in some third-rate video console were helping scientists carry out hard research. This piece of news coincided with the relaunch of a competing machine. And thus the churnalism of technology pulls the wool over our eyes.

Anyhow. Back to the Espresso machine which doesn't make coffee. So what does it do? Well, it prints books at the point-of-sale. As I said at the beginning of this post, I was entranced by the prospect of such a machine as long ago as 2001.

I've had to wait until today for the technology and the content to come together productively enough to make it a useful alternative to previous processes.

Background here, whilst the video below gives you a taster of the glorious world to come.


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