Letters to and From the Editor

Print vs. Digital

For years we’ve heard that print is dead, or nearly dead, or soon to be dead, depending on the hyperbolic nature of the source. The prediction does make sense from an economic and sustainable point of view—paper and mailing costs keep going up, and trees might better be used for soaking up carbon dioxide to keep the planet from dying. We also increasingly consume information online, where words can be enhanced with multimedia to create a more visually engaging package.

Interestingly, magazines such as the WPI Journal are an exception to the digital trend. Industry surveys show that many readers—young and old—prefer reading university magazines the old-fashioned way, in print form sent through snail mail. There’s something to be said for physically flipping through the pages of a well-designed publication, reading stories that catch your eye through clever headlines or striking visuals, without the need of an electronic device. And, yes, editors are fully aware which quiet room you might be in when reading.

On the other hand, the digital presentation does allow us to tell stories in a more engaging way, especially when we can feature the work of our talented multimedia team. We also can offer links to related information and—coming soon—a way to comment on a story for added reader engagement.

Another huge digital benefit is the ability to easily share a story you might find interesting—by quickly sending off a link in an email or text, or sharing via social media. At the suggestion of a reader, we’re trying an experiment in the print version in an attempt to combine the best of both worlds. You’ll see a now-ubiquitous QR code at the end of the three main features in the print edition that will take you to the digital version of the story, allowing you to share if you are so inclined. Let us know if you find this helpful or simply a distraction.

May you find peace and happiness in the new year.

Kristen O’Reilly, Editor

P.S. Some readers received an email survey back in 2020 that asked their preferred way of receiving this publication. Based partly on the results of that survey, and as a cost-saving measure during the uncertain times of the pandemic, the print run of the Journal was decreased. As we work on future distribution plans, let us know if you missed the survey or want to change the way you receive the Journal: infoupdate@wpi.edu.


The Global Impact story in the Fall 2022 WPI Journal omitted the name of the co-founder of the Melbourne Project Center, Matt Ward ’77, late professor of computer science. Also, Jonathan Barnett ’74 is professor and co-founder of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering. The story has been updated online. The Journal regrets these omissions.

To the Editor,

I found the Lens and Lights comment in the Fall 2022 WPI Journal [Letter to the Editor] interesting, especially since I am well acquainted with “ancient” carbon arc projectors. The problem with operating them is that they need to be vented due to the very toxic fumes generated by the carbon arc.

I built a reproduction of a 1930 vintage TV camera using a vintage Peerless arc projector, producing an intense spot of light that passed through a rotating disc having a peripheral ring of holes.

The resulting spot of light passed through a lens and produced a rudimentary “raster,” which scanned the subject with the reflection picked up by photocells.

Thus, the first TV camera!

—Richard Brewster ’60

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