Electronic Packaging Prep
A growing number of online packaging-oriented forums and resources can help printers' "prepress" routines along.
By Terri McConnell
One morning several years ago, I logged on to my computer to check my e-mail and found nearly a dozen messages from an address I didn't recognize. I opened the first one a little hesitantly, having just recovered from a particularly nasty e-mail-borne virus. Two lines into the message, I knew I had been infected againthis time with a bug known as a "listserv," and it has changed my quiet, coffee-assisted, o'dark thirty routine forever.
For those of you lucky enough to still have immunity against information overload, a listserv is a peer-to-peer exchange of information on a specific topic that takes place via e-mail, rather than through a Web site bulletin board or a live chat room.
It works like this. First you post an e-mail to the forum address. The e-mail is received at a Web site where it is processed, archived, and immediately rebroadcast to all the members on the list. Members read your e-mail, post a reply or a rebuttal addressed to the forum, and the cycle starts again.
According to Dave Mainwaring, who moderates several of the printing industry's most highly subscribed forums, "In the case of our CTPP forum, which has thousands of members, we send out about 9 million messages a month. That means a member can receive 35 to 75 e-mails per day about computer-to-plate technology." People who can't handle dozens of messages crammed in their mailboxes can elect to receive the messages in a condensed "digest" or "index" form. No matter how it's delivered, the informationwhich ranges from advice about working around a software bug, to competitive equipment analyses, to debates about best business practicescan be absolutely invaluable.
The CTPP forum, along with 13 other printing and publishing forums, is hosted on printplanet.com, by Digital Art Exchange, Inc. (DAX), a Boston-based Internet and application service provider for the graphic communications industry. "DAX pays a lot of attention to privacy issues," says Mainwaring. "We restrict the forums to people working in the printing industry. And we don't sell, rent, or release any information about our members, so there's no spam."