I’ve been following with interest the various Internet postings regarding drupa 2024. The postings, called “The Road to drupa,” have been responses to articles appearing in various printing industry publications as well as in threads between individuals commenting on drupa 2024 and whether or not they will be attending.

Many of the postings are among tremendously respected colleagues and industry leaders that I’ve known for decades. A theme among quite a few is: “I won’t be attending drupa,” and some have expressed regrets and wishing they were attending. Unfortunately, I am one of them. Let me explain.

Anecdotal and Personal

First, I’ll be anecdotal and personal. For those who would like to, but will not be attending drupa, there is an alternative approach I experienced. The year was 2012 and I was prepared to attend drupa. Shortly before the event, my 94-year-old mother became ill (she passed away two years later at 96), and I had to remain close to home to assist with the situation. Hence, I canceled my trip.

However, I was determined to learn as much as possible about what was taking place at drupa. Luckily, the Internet was sufficiently matured at that time and coverage was provided from vendors and attendees, as well as in daily online publications about what was taking place. This information was important to me because I was still heading the Graphic Communication Department at Cal Poly, and it was imperative I be kept abreast of the latest developments in the field.

I disciplined myself to take an hour or two each day to just study what was being transmitted from Düsseldorf. At the end of the event, I asked myself: “What don’t I know now that I would have known had I attended drupa?” My answer to myself was, “nothing.”

Certainly, I missed the camaraderie, the socializing with my friends and colleagues who attended. But, as far as knowing the new technologies, applications, trends, and new industry thinking, I didn’t feel like I missed anything. I might have, but it sure didn’t feel that way. The point is I disciplined myself to spend some time each day on the Internet following what was occurring. I share this approach with those of you who will not attend the 2024 event but would have liked to.

Aging and Mobility

In reading the personal threads that have been written, I sense many are not attending, including myself, because our bodies are talking to us; telling us what we should and shouldn’t do as we age. I’m certainly experiencing that.

Occasionally, people ask me how old I am. My standard answer is, “From the knees down I am 81. However, from forehead up, I feel 18.” Hence, intellectually I feel no different than I ever did, and can absorb new information, new thoughts, and new approaches. However, my mobility and tolerance for long distance travel has changed.

I equate most business trips to being in a long tunnel, always indoor: vehicle to airport, airline (usually with several connections), airport, vehicle to hotel, hotel to site being visited (back and forth as many days needed), vehicle back to airport, airline, returning airport, vehicle back home. Short travel is fine, but long trips have become unsustainable with all of their air travel cancellations and delay uncertainties, and reduced services.

The Printing Industry Has Been Good to Me

Nevertheless, I appreciate and enjoy being able to keep up with the field that has been so important to me. I’m reminded of Sammy Sosa, that great baseball player from the Dominican Republic who said towards the end of his career, in his accent, “Baseball has been very good to me.” I like to say, in my Brooklyn accent, “Printing has been very good to me.”

I just can’t give it up and want to keep giving back. I flunked retirement. I’ve been in the field since 1961, including my education, and thought I was retiring in 2013. However, I was asked to stay on at Cal Poly for another year-and-a-half to help complete a special project. Additionally, my phone kept ringing, and I was led to understand I still had something to contribute to the industry: writing, research, speaking, serving is an expert witness, consulting, and so on.

Hence, I never really retired. Perhaps some of you are in the same situation. But, thanks to the power of the Internet many of us don’t have to retire because travel, which has become so tedious, is not as necessary as it used to be. Today, sitting home in the comfort of our own homes, dressed casually, and in control of our own time, we can do almost anything we used to enjoy doing when going to the office and when business travel was a more pleasant experience.

Thank You

So, I will again be attending drupa virtually, and I hope many of you will as well who would like to attend but cannot. I’ve already started my regimen of keeping up on the drupa 2024 news being posted daily on the Internet. I thank the industry press, the OEMs, and all others who made being on “The Road to drupa” possible.

Harvey R. Levenson, Ph. D.

Professor Emeritus, Cal Poly