Social Media and print are at odds – and as we know, social media is on its way up while print is on its way out. A recent development, however, may provide print its most powerful platform yet.

(Just scroll down to skip to the solution.)

I am a social media enthusiast. Once a reluctant skeptic, I have since become a convert – even evangelist – for the practical and innovative uses of all things social media. From twitter to facebook, linkedin to the blogsphere, there is simply no other avenue for communication with comparable reach or effectiveness. New media is the new relevance – like it or not.

So what’s the problem?

Well, here’s the thing: When I am at the airport, waiting to get through the long security line, watching the guy in front of me struggle with his shoe laces and fumble for his keys, there is only one thing that sustains me: I will buy myself a shiny new magazine on the other side.

And when I’m out by the pool on a hot summer day, I just don’t enjoy reading my news through the glare on the screen of my iphone. I want a newspaper.

I love print. I love the feel of the pages in my hands and the scent of freshly printed ink. I willingly give in to the lure of typography and color and, when the last page of the last article is through, I feel the distinct satisfaction of completion.

Lately however, I have experienced a clash of values:

Social Media and print are at odds – and as we know, social media is on its way up while print is on its way out. Unless, of course, social media can save print.

And it can. Here’s how:

There is a new iphone and android app called Sticky Bits. It allows you to scan any barcode and attach a message to that physical object. You can download and print your own barcodes, or scan an existing one on a physical product like a can of Coke. Each barcode is programmable by the first person who scans it and and leaves a photo, video, audio, or text message. The next time somebody scans that barcode, the previous message will appear on their phone. Anyone can add a new message to the same code, resulting in a stream of messages connected to whatever object or place the barcode is stuck on. With this app, every object around you becomes “live.”

You see where I’m going here?

With the simple addition of a programmed barcode to the end of every magazine article or advertisement, print becomes interactive. With a quick scan, readers have access to all the value and benefits that social media has to offer (review these benefits in the chart above). No more letters to the editor (comments are immediate – authors can even opt to interact directly with barcode users), no more “archived” print pieces (they will be relevant for as long as editors and barcode users choose to keep it that way), and no more looming death of the printing press. With interactive print, social media marries the magazine and everyone lives happily ever after.

Alright people, let’s make this happen! Either comment below or send me an email here:

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