Coming of Age
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!