Com­ing of Age

The Insider - - CONTENTS - Niko­lay Mal­yarov

The launch date for this is­sue is a very spe­cial one for all of us at PressReader. To­day, we turned 18 years old, which is a long time for a tech­nol­ogy com­pany.

As I re­flect back on our com­ing of age jour­ney, I can’t help but feel hon­ored to be part of a vi­sion that has never wa­vered since it was first con­ceived.

Cer­tainly strate­gies, im­ple­men­ta­tions, and prod­ucts may have changed and evolved over time, but from the very early days we were com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing a place where peo­ple could dis­cover, read, dis­cuss and share news that mat­ters to them from trusted sources any­where in the world, when­ever and how­ever they choose.

When the in­ter­net be­came main­stream in 1999, we cre­ated a so­lu­tion which al­lowed for dig­i­tally print­ing news­pa­pers at ho­tels.

Af­ter suc­cess­fully nav­i­gat­ing the dot-com bub­ble in 2000, 9/11 hit close to home and sud­denly ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, as we knew it, changed. We first no­ticed the prob­lem in Cana­dian li­braries which were un­able to pro­vide re­cent edi­tions of US news­pa­pers to their pa­trons. Some is­sues would show up weeks late due to stricter bor­der con­trols.

This opened up a whole new mar­ket for us. In 2002, the Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Li­brary was the first to in­stall our Print-on-De­mand ser­vice which helped open doors into many other ver­ti­cally-fo­cused mar­kets be­sides li­braries — places peo­ple like to visit, in­clud­ing ho­tels, air­lines, cruise ships, cafes, and events.

Around that same time, we launched the first all-you-can-con­sume plat­form for dig­i­tal edi­tions of news­pa­pers — four years be­fore Net­flix in­tro­duced its stream­ing video ser­vice. The in­ter­net and mo­bile rev­o­lu­tions made it pos­si­ble for vir­tu­ally un­in­hib­ited ac­cess to any type of con­tent, any­where, any­time. It was some­what chaotic, un­reg­u­lated and even harm­ful at times, but no one can deny that, as a re­sult, we are a more in­formed, ed­u­cated, and stronger so­ci­ety than we were just 15 years ago. Tech­nol­ogy em­pow­ered us. It em­pow­ered us be­yond what we could imag­ine back then. And it con­tin­ues to em­power us be­yond what we can imag­ine for the fu­ture.

In writ­ing this let­ter, I was re­minded of my per­sonal com­ing of age ex­pe­ri­ence.

In most coun­tries com­ing of age is as­so­ci­ated with one be­com­ing an adult and a con­tribut­ing mem­ber of so­ci­ety, which in­cludes civic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. I re­mem­ber the first time I voted in an elec­tion. I made my choice on a can­di­date largely based on the con­tent I con­sumed from sources I trusted. Be­ing part of such an im­por­tant ex­er­cise in democ­racy made me grate­ful for hav­ing my voice heard. I still feel that way ev­ery time I vote, even when, call me naïve, I know that my cho­sen can­di­date is not likely to win.

Nearly two decades later, I feel like we’re on the edge of a new age of en­light­en­ment — a time, not un­like the 16th cen­tury, when blind faith is giv­ing way to knowl­edge based on sci­en­tific method and em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence.

Tech­nol­ogy is ad­vanc­ing at a re­lent­less pace and ev­ery day we be­come more of a so­ci­ety of in­di­vid­u­als — in­di­vid­u­als who ex­pect per­son­al­ized “ev­ery­thing”, in­clud­ing the con­tent they con­sume. Any­thing less than get­ting the right con­tent to the right per­son at the right time through the right chan­nels at the right price is a one-way ticket to ir­rel­e­vancy.

The in­ter­net rev­o­lu­tion was an amaz­ing time in our history, and it taught us many lessons — not the least of which was to put the in­di­vid­ual first in all that we do.

The next decade will prove to be even more ex­tra­or­di­nary shaped by the ex­po­nen­tial rise in Ma­chine Learn­ing, Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, Vir­tual and Aug­mented Re­al­ity ap­pli­ca­tions, and un­be­liev­able break­throughs in the fu­sion of bi­ol­ogy and tech­nol­ogy. Th­ese con­cepts are still cap­i­tal­ized be­cause they are novel, but soon that up­per­case let­ter will be­come low­er­case, as we saw hap­pen with the ubiq­uity of the in­ter­net. Al­though I be­lieve there is an ur­gent need for reg­u­la­tions to pro­tect us against abuse of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, I’m also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an el­e­vated level of em­pow­er­ment which fuels my de­sire to em­brace it all. Be­cause, to para­phrase Mark Twain, we must plan for our fu­ture be­cause that’s where we are go­ing to spend the rest of our lives.

I hope you en­joy this com­ing of age is­sue of The In­sider. And as al­ways, I invite you to share your thoughts on it, even if it’s just a birth­day wish. Let’s talk!

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