Friday, November 30, 2012

November Observations : Year in Review

November 2012 Observations
A Readle Word Cloud captures major themes from the year

Jim Lyons Observations 2012 - Year in Review, along with some longer reflections

So here it is – my Year in Review (YIR) blog post, and yes it’s posting in (late) November! How’s that for getting ahead of the game?

I have always enjoyed YIR recaps, whether in my personal or professional life. Whether it’s movies, books, stock market stories, or celebrity faux pas, I really enjoy a crisp write-up or list to help me reflect back. And since joining the journalist/analyst side of the imaging and printing industry, I have been involved in pulling a number of these recaps together.

And knowing how the end of the year can go by in such a fleeting fashion, I am getting a jump on my Jim Lyons Observations YIR by making it the topic of my November post – which if typical, will make it just under the wire at the end of the month (and like its counterparts, I am painfully aware that November is one of those poor months which is only 30 days long!).

And indulging me, please understand that my YIR has to include a little longer-term reflection on this blog and these observations. It came as a bit of a shock to take a look at the calendar the other day and realized the seventh anniversary of my departure from HP had past. That final day as an HP employee goes back to October 2005. In the time since, along with enjoying many personal and professional experiences, one of the most consistent things in my life has been this monthly column. Beginning with the December 2005 Hard Copy Observer (yes, the real “hard copy” version), I have been grinding out this monthly column/blog post, titled “Jim Lyons Observations”.

The last time I looked back was As I reflected in 2010 on how it all started in 2005, here’s what I remembered then:
My very first column was titled, “Hard Copy Time Capsule” and recounts an actual incident where I found a group of ten-year-old Observers during an (obviously rare) office cleanup that accompanied a career change. The three issues were from 1995 and between them include many articles that ten years later seem very significant in what became big things in the printing and imaging industry. Also included, predictably, were articles on things that proved to be inconsequential in hindsight. In that column, I pointed out the early predictions of growth in color printing and all-in-ones, which by 2005 seemed obvious, as well as many companies who had been industry participants in 1995 that were distant memories ten years later.

So back to today, at the end of November 2012, I am celebrating seven years, and a total of 84, columns, and seeing what might be learned in a look back, from two years ago, and now another two dozen columns to compare, what trends have changed and which have continued?

Well, there’s a hint with that question mark! I noted two years ago how so many of my column titles in the beginning were in that rhetorical question form.  I allowed myself two in 2011 (seems like a reasonable quota), and none so far in 2012 – so maybe the data show I am becoming more sure of myself, and less open to questioning? Who knows?

I am always been proud of my balance in Observations between the past and the future – while the industry’s history intrigues, I love looking at what is new and how the world is changing. I never wanted Observations to be a “Thanks for the Memories” piece, at least all the time.

And when I look at my themes, and getting a little quant-oriented, I classified each column as either “History”, “New Products/Technologies”, “Strategies”, “Current Events”, or “People”. Truth being told, just about all my columns touch on all these – current events and new technologies often come into focus when looking at some history, strategies are involved in looking at the new companies I write about, etc. But confining myself to characterizing each of my 84 columns - including this one – in one of the five categories suggested, here’s the data, including the last 12 columns, in the spirit of YIR, in (parentheses):
History  14 (3)
Current Events  25 (4)
New Products/Technologies       37 (4)
Strategy               7 (1)
People  1
Total 84 columns

And more on my promised “Year in Review”, specifically?.  The most recent 12 months have been turbulent and event-filled, to say the least. It has included industry changes, the loss of prominent pioneers, and even a research-side merger which brought together two of my employers – Lyra Research and the Photizo Group. And the data would explain that – the “History” columns reflecting those losses and the merger, and a nice blend of the other topics, including Facebook/Instagram, Berg’s Little Printer, and Kickstarter-related 
projects making up some of my favorites.

Here’s a World Cloud, from, that gives a more graphic view, and for now, let me be the first to offer greetings for a very Happy and Successful 2013!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kickstarter Teaser today - Paper and pixels!

When I saw my Kickstarter teaser email today (subject line - "Projects We Love: Paper and Pixels") I just had to take a further look! The popular crowdfunding site has recently become a go-to source for me, in search of interesting and sometimes quirky ideas related to printing. But this one turned out to be a little off-track from what I had hoped for, but with a little further thought, I see some real possibilities, as well.

First, the second idea ("Pixels") is a "A retro styled beat-em-up of truly epic proportions" video game, in the words of the listing, by Nicoll Hunt, of London. See more at Looks fun, but not up this blog's alley.

But the first one took some more pondering. The "Pop-up Paper House" indeed IS a printing opportunity, with the creator, Katherine Belsey, of that mecca of creativity, Brooklyn, NY. The enchanting 2 story, 8-room house is, again in the words of the listing, "Intricately detailed [and] folds flat for storage or travel. Light but sturdy, it is designed for play." The house details are printing via a home color printer, then mounted  on foam core, and are currently available on Belsey's web site (, as are, as the name implies, many delightful pop-up cards patterns.

The Kickstarter project's goal is to get into production with less of a DIY version. Belsey "would like to be able to distribute it as a ready-made product", for people who (sensitive to user needs here), without the skills and/or time for the current version, noting "children of doll-house playing age usually do not have the necessary skill or patience, and that their parents often do not have the time for such an ambitious project." Part of the project's $5,000 goal includes buying the necessary color printer, for prints to be glued onto laser-cut hardboard, and to get into production.

After this little bit of research, I am in, btw!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

HP's Enterprise Printing Tech Day

I am back on HP's Boise site today for their analyst/influencer Enterprise Printing Tech Day. As always they put on a great show, and it is really fun to be back on the site where I worked for nearly 25 years. A couple of quick highlights (that I can talk about) include an overview and hands on with new products and solutions announced at the end of October (see WSJ coverage) and latest in workflow and Managed Print Services (exemplified in this video on their work with General Mills.) More to follow!