The obsolete tales of ‘ember month printing boom

Aristotle was a great philosopher known to some for pioneering contributions to all fields of philosophy and science, inventor of the field of formal logic to others, to some school of thoughts he would first be admitted as an identifier of the various scientific disciplines and explorer and interweaver of their relationships to each other. In all, there is no doubt that this great teacher and founder of Lyceum school in Athens Greece meant different things to different people.

To me, his works remain my “go to” any day. I once read about his classification of friendship and the thoughts they generated in me remains potent. Aristotle figured there were three kinds of friendships;

  1. Friendships of utility: Which exist between you and someone who is useful to you in some way. There are some friends we call only when we are in trouble, isn’t it? Many employee/employers’ relationship also develop this type of friendship.
  2. Friendships of pleasure: This exists between you and those whose company you enjoy. Although Madonna Ciccone has said “Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another” but then the level of pleasure we derive from some friendships are so phenomenal that many will rather be friends to this than that other person.
  3. Friendships of the good: These are based on mutual respect and admiration. We build this kind of love with siblings, family and especially childhood friends, we also stand from afar to build some of this kind of friendship with those we eventually call mentors.

I was amazed by the love I received recently by an interwoven friendship I had received across this three classification of friends that I have met and related with in my 50 years of existing. The surprise video is no longer news, the Print Tech Gang coordinators took it upon themselves to identify my cadre of friends and put together a lovely video which obviously was done without my knowledge but was delighted to see childhood friends, elders, printing industry friends turned brothers and sisters, relatives, and my trusted clergy men. I sat back to reflect on the journey of friendship with every single person in that video and was filled with the euphoria of fond memories and thoughts. I was pleased and thank all for the sweet memories we have shared, I am particularly glad that loads of humans, clothed in race, ethnic groups, religious affiliation and strains of individuality can overlook my excesses and faults to still accept me for whom I am. Truly “a friend is one who overlooks your broken fence and admires the flower in your garden” – quote by unknown friend. Three “gbosa” to all those we can call friends, because you add tremendous value to living and existence. God bless you all.

As time passes it is normal to notice that individual aspiration, height of achievement, environment and a host of other factors might help you readjust or realign your network of friends, this is normal and I have seen many people navigate with wisdom on who they call friends per time.

When I arrived the printing industry I was in my late 20’s, as a prepress engineer that many termed “smart”, my first challenges and the eventual breakthroughs were phenomenal, we don’t talk about this things enough. For instance I figured out installing postscript drivers to send jobs from design applications to imagesetters, before then sending jobs was a nightmare. I also resolved problems that customers had lived with, one example that comes to mind vividly was a problem encountered by a customer who then called me “baby engineer” (you know yourself -laugh) where every first film loaded on his imagesetter was always greeted with a film jam, they had to reload and all will be fine till the machine is switched off for a long while and problem will occur again, I was actually fixing another problem when I discovered that one of the hose from the vacuum pump responsible for holding the film to the drum by a negative vacuum was broken, I got a 3 minute DIY glue from my tool bag and sealed off the crack and “voila” the problem they had managed from inception disappeared. There won’t be time to talk about how I installed the very first computer to plate (CtP) machine in Nigeria as that will be a story for another day.

At this time there was the ember season where every printer would smile to the bank every day of the ember months, calendar, annual reports, diaries and those printing relating to end of year give away for the corporate offices brought drones of millions of Naira to printers such that a lot buy their new printing machine to coincide with the job boom of the ember months. If the ember months was your friend decades back you would by now have adjusted to new friendship as time has overtaken the importance of what brought the boom of the ember months. For instance calendars on our PC’s and smart phones stole the shine from physical wall calendars.

Nature is our stylish best friend that has surrounded us with beautiful terrain, geographers have constantly advised that we completely enjoy nature without disrespecting its ecological balance, by way of a definition, Nature is all the animals, plants and other things in the world not made by people, plus all events and processes that are not caused by people. To however continue enjoying the infinite variety of nature, the watch word would be “be kind and careful” to it. Carelessness and being unkind will definitely speed up the changing course of nature which many times will translate those glamour, beauty, illustriousness to a new state and level at an interval of time. Mind you, those who respect the course of change also benefit from the new outcomes no matter what.

What am I saying?

The effect of price war, unhealthy competition, not embracing regulation, copycat attitude, combined with not properly attending to the subject of lifestyle trends, technological advancement, fresh ideology and so on has caused a shift of that belief that Nigeria printers must make money in the ember months, and it is time to drop old myth to give way for retrospect that will give way to new thinking, advancement in the use of technology and open a new window of profitability. Nigeria is a nation of young people who might never be able to articulate themselves but when will we with all the experience and wealth position by moving away from the ember month myth and understand the silent yet loud yarning for a printing business tied to trends that will promote pockets of conservative mass that will catalyze an all year round printing business that will be enough for everyone.

Even if we decide not to move from the ember months sales mentality, the lifestyle of event tags and ticketing tied to RFID will surely move us forcefully, for those who don’t seem to get my drift, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a contactless data exchange technology based on the use of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation. RFID technology for events is used to automatically identify and track attendees throughout the venue and telling what activities they have embarked on, and yes printing drives the technology in most cases, yet why is no one leveraging on this rather than wait for the ember months?

 In a similar manner, some printers must position to ensure that the printing and packaging of some Nigeria products are suitable enough for export or how do we wait for the ember months and not see the possibilities of daily exporting shea butter, seasoning, fruits and herb (which are some products needed all over the world), or even exporting printed textile. Somehow, printing seems to be cheaper in Nigeria for reasons that I am yet to figure out but the focus must be on ensuring they are packaged for export.

Again Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here – indeed we know this won’t solve all our problems – but we are yet still struggling to apply its numerous benefits, for instance in printing, AI can be beneficial in detecting print inconsistency, dot gain, distortion or grid non-uniformity if am to mention just a few. AI can enhance machine learning which will help printers create network-level analytics and real-time detection of anomaly of various forms, and indeed massive data capture to help make great and scientifically informed decisions that will help position for export of our printing or packaging services to neigbouring countries and a wider international market but it’s a shame that we are not pulling resources together for the benefit of all of us.

Unless we approach printing with a different mindset and forget the past of ember elation, we might never be able to think through those things needed to print in and out of season.

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