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Printing vs. the Internet

September 15, 2010

Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468)

Johaness Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1440 propelled us from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, and has had an impact on virtually every aspect of society. The printing press modernized our world. Printing began with the Bible being the first book ever printed. Moving on, the printing press simplified the trade of securities and brought about currency. News became easily accessible as it began to travel quickly through the printing of newspapers. Governments began issuing licenses and taxing their citizens easily. Literacy levels started to rise worldwide as books became widely available and more people began to read. Through books, science and philosophy flourished by easily being able to record and spread thoughts and ideas. The printing press could easily be regarded as the most influential invention of the second millennia if we don’t count the Internet.

moveable type

One cannot deny the power of the web. The Internet, as we know it today, has been about 50 years in the making having originally evolved from U.S. Military technology. Today, the transfer of information is instantaneous. After the next 500 years, the Internet could easily be regarded as the invention of all time becoming the father of the Information Age. While it may be hard to imagine a world without the Internet, it is harder to imagine where the Internet will lead us 500 years from now. It is difficult to predict exactly what the Information Age has yet to bring—if it doesn’t kill us first. James A. Dewar argues that “information technologies could bring down the power of the nation-state in the same way the printing press helped bring down the power of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.”

Fowler-Henkle Book Press

Both the printing press and the Internet possess the power of communication. To certain extents, they are intertwined. To other extents, one has begun to replace the other. They share similar qualities with how they influence and help shape society. Considering the printing press is 500 years older, we have yet to see what the Internet has yet to bring.

• Dewar, James A. “The Information Age and the Printing Press: Looking Backward to See Ahead.” acm.org. Association for Computing Machinery, 1998. Web. 13 Sep. 2010.

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