Map: 'soc-con.GIF'

Social Context

Dynamic changes of technology
The study exhibited here was made in a period with very dynamic changes in technology available for newspaper pre-press production, which had changed from centuries of wood and metal based material (text, graphics and images) into photographic, paper based material in the 1960's and now saw new possibilities in changing to completely digital material presented on image screens and output on plate.
Newspaper managers hesitation
Newspaper managers were hesitating for the digital technology, hoping for others to make the mistakes, rightfully suspicious whether the technology was ripe for the extremely large volumes of data and time pressure in newspaper production. (Actually complete digitalisation has not yet in 1996 happened, the technology is still not quite ripe).
Graphic workers saw potential and risks in the possible transition of technology
The graphic workers and their unions in the Nordic countries had just lived through a major change of technology (from lead to paper) in the 1960's and 1970's and wanted to be well prepared and knowledgeable in the possible coming transition, in order to make it in socially acceptable forms keeping the quality of work and product, keeping and finding new uses of their working skill, even trying to influence the technical development. That was the reason for the Utopia initiative.

Malte Eriksson, graphic worker in Utopia: "We learned not to accept the limitations of existing technology but to reinvent it and win back the graphic workers' position when working with computers."

Small movie (15 sec, 190 K)
Large movie (15 sec, 1,3 MB)

Conflicts of interest
In the rationalisations and transitions to new technology not only management and newspaper employees could have conflicts of interest but also different groups of employees, notably journalists and graphic workers, with frequent conflicts at newspapers in the 1980's. Transition to new technology would have to be accompanied with discussion and restructuring of the work organisation with possibility to find new roles and handle conflicts between the groups of employees. On some Nordic newspapers experiments were already going on in making journalists and graphic workers form production teams for layout and page make-up.
Pilot installation at optimistic newspaper near Stockholm
With these difficulties in mind a newspaper workplace for pilot installation had to be found, where management and workers were optimistic and wanted to try out new technology and where there was a good record of handling conflicts of interest. A newspaper near or in Stockholm had the advantage of making installation and the Utopian studies more feasible.
The chosen paper, Aftonbladet, was (and is) a daily Stockholm based newspaper in tabloid format with a circulation of about 400000, printed in four editions per day and with enclosures 5 days per week.
Such contact and confidence never established with the page-make-up developer
The Utopia group did not succeed in establishing even a rudiment of similar contact and confidence as with IMTEC/Teragon with Typlan, reponsible for development of the TIPS page make-up system. That system was never finished even for pilot-installation, so a study of the full, integrated system could never be made. Some reasons for the contact failure were lack of common understanding of the possibilities of modern technology, the importance of usability and work environment issues, management philosophy and shortage of development personnel at Typlan.
Only image processing, and only functionality
For technical development reasons, see developers' experience, and lack of interest in work organisational experiments from the management of Aftonbladet, only the image processing system was studied and evaluated functionally in real use, as a stand alone part of the production. Still the results, when it comes to knowledge and experience, were valuable for management and graphic workers and their union, see the conclusion of Developers' Experience

Latest update by Axel Henriksson 96-04-16