Perhaps the most significant feature of the digital publishing process is its innate flexibility. A digitally stored publication, produced initially for whatever form of output, can, in all probability, be reformulated for publication in another form, and through another mode of delivery (Figure Intro.2). One of the most common examples of this phenomenon is printed matter that is reworked, or repur-posed, for the World Wide Web. There are countless newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and other periodicals that publish their issues simultaneously on paper and on the Internet in a process called cross media publishing. From the earliest examples of handwriting and graphic expression, preserved on papyrus, parchment, vellum, and paper, the fundamental purpose of making records has been to safeguard information, preserve memory, and to share it with others. The use of a portable medium, like paper, continues to provide a way for messages to be transported easily from place to place, and to be copied, annotated, filed, or even destroyed when necessary. Despite the profusion of digital delivery and viewing methods, paper will remain a strong contender.
Mechanized printing and graphic reproduction processes have made it possible to quickly and cheaply produce many copies of a single message, or more recently, with advances in print on-demand technology, to print single copies of many messages, with the potential to personalize each one for a specific recipient. In either case, the characteristic that opens the universe of publishing alternatives, is the initial creation of a digital master. A digital original has the potential to take forms that can be expressed in either printed or digital form, and move from one form to another throughout the life of the information content.