The Web Is a Print Medium

Oh, man. This is awesome. Do a print preview of this page. (If you’re looking at this either on the home page or on the page for the post itself, that is—search and archive pages won’t do it.) Check it out!

I’ve been wanting to have this site set up so that links print out as footnotes ever since I saw this function for the first time at Wet Asphalt. Those guys have a separate printer-friendly version for each post, though, which appears to involve skills (nodes? Drupal?) that are out of my depth. But after searching around a little bit I found Aaron Gustafson’s article “Improving Links for Print” on the ever-useful A List Apart, which explains the problem, and the brilliant solution, and has links to the files on Gustafson’s site where you can download everything you need to set this up yourself (this is the main thing, but you’ll also need this). It took me a while, but I finally got it to work.

Putting aside, for the moment, the environmental impact of printing Web pages (which seems like it’s surely a more complicated matter than it would appear to be at first glance, in the larger context of things like paper recycling, personal computers ending up in landfills, the energy needs of the computers on which the Web itself lives, serial sending-long-memos-to-the-office-printer-then-forgetting-about-them-ists, Bush, etc.): Isn’t this cool?

And potentially incredibly useful—like, say you print out an interesting article, and it has a link to something that’s related to the article and is also interesting, but you don’t print that out, and the link is written with extremely vague language—e.g., “this”—but then the original article comes down, or moves, or the site on which it was originally published dies, but you still have that original printout, and you want to find what “this” is, or was, but you can’t?

I mean, why don’t all Web sites have this?