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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Printing Press = Internet Press?

The invention and coming forth of Guttenberg’s printing press was a monumental pivot point in history. No longer would reading be confined to monks and rich scholars. No longer would a book take days to copy. No longer would it be difficult to read based upon the handwriting of the copier. The printing press made reading available to even the lowliest of persons. The printing press was a key element to a religious reform starting. It was a key element for people beginning to stand up to monarchic governments. It was a key element in many Revolutions, especially the American Revolution.

“In the late fifteenth century, the reproduction of written materials began to move from the copyist’s desk to the printer’s workshop. This shift, which revolutionized all forms of learning, was particularly important for historical scholarship. Ever since then historians have been indebted to Gutenberg’s invention; print enters their work from start to finish, from consulting card files to reading page proofs. Because historians are usually eager to investigate major changes and this change transformed the conditions of their own craft, one would expect the shift to attract some attention from the profession as a whole. Yet any historiographical survey will show the contrary to be true.”
(Cambridge University Press 0521845432 - The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, Second Edition; Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. Excerpt)

Is this true for the information revolution of our day, the internet? Do most of us look at it as an anomaly, or do we really consider the impact that it is having on society, and the learning process of today? Can we consider the internet as big of an impact on the future as the invention of the printing press was in Guttenberg’s day?

Consider the way the internet has revolutionized learning. Consider the fact that the internet has made information and reading of materials more readily available to the world. Consider the fact that the internet is fueled a lot by commercial interests of our day, much the same as printing was fueled in Aldus Manutius’ day. (See Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance)

I hope you can see the interesting correlation that I see.


  1. I agree that the Internet can be considered as big a turning point as Guttenberg's invention of the press was. New and exciting methods of learning and sharing information have opened before our view. It makes me wonder if books will one day become obsolete. I would personally hate to see that day come, but is it in the future? Nowadays computers/technological devices are incorporating a lot of the features that make books more desirable for certain purposes (i.e. portability, permanence, etc.) and could feasibly become viable alternatives to printed books. I don't know what the future holds, but it's something to think about.

  2. No, I dont think the computer had as big of an efect on the world as the Printing Press.

  3. I think that the internet and computers are having as big an impact on the printing press.