Which was impactful, the Printing Press or the Internet? – V. Cooper

Which was impactful, the Printing Press or the Internet?

This paper discusses how innovative technology has helped the advancement of the modern age. Going in depth about the printing press and how it has impacted society. Leading to the creation of the Internet. In a sense the printing press is the chicken that lays the egg of the Internet. Without the printing press many of the modern technology we are privileged with would be nothing.

The advancement of society throughout history stems from the innovation of technology. An innovation of technology allows society to expand and broaden their ideals. The creation of the printing press and Internet has left an impactful mark upon society. These technological evolutions have allowed for the sophistication and simplification of daily life routines. Even though, these technological advancements have played a major role in the modernization of society, the printing press has made a greater impact on society then the Internet. The development and growth of society lies upon the advancement of technology due to its crucial role for expanding and developing new beliefs.

In the year, 1450, Johann Gutenberg created the movable type printing press. The creation of the movable type printing press allowed for an efficient way of copying and writing books. The movable type printing press drastically changes the spread and development of knowledge. Before the printing press, “Copy work was usually performed in monasteries, where scribes lived and worked long days, tediously copying pages of text (Koscielniak)”. The production of books and manuscript before the printing press was a way of life. The copying and writing consumed the individual’s daily life.

The time consumption of the production of the books made it that, “manuscripts were scarce (22, Dewar)”. The lacking of a mass quantity of books lead to “learning primarily involved listening (to someone read a manuscript or give a lecture), and–as above–memorization was paramount. Apprenticeship training and memorization were the primary means of educating the underclasses (22, Dewar)”.  The educational environment drastically changed after the production of the movable type printing press,

“People shifted from being listeners to being readers. Learning no longer required the presence of a mentor; it could be done privately. People talk of celebrated auto-didacts such as Tycho Brahe and Isaac Newton who learned primarily by reading. Such dramatic structural changes should lead to significant societal and cultural changes . . . (23, Dewar)”.

The accessibility of books allowed for people to learn on their own. Leading to self-learners such as Isaac Newton who discovered the fundamental laws of gravity. Even with the great affects of the printing press, developing and spreading of knowledge efficiently throughout Europe, many were still distasted by its innovation.

“there were efforts in both religion and science to “clean up the manuscripts”; to take the now-available copies of a variety of manuscripts and to edit and correct them into a clean copy. Briefly, the effort in religion was a failure; that in science, a success. But the more significant outcome was that, in each case, the effort to clean up the manuscript helped send its respective discipline on an importantly new trajectory (25, Dewar)”.

The church unfavorable dissatisfaction of the invention of the printing press, displayed their loss of control over society. Prior the development of the printing press, the church had control of the knowledge society could be informed about due to the monasteries held sole control of the copying and writing of books. From the high time consumption of the development of books, the scarcity lead to a majority of society to be illiterate and lacking an education. The printing press made society more knowledge leading to them question the churches role in their personal lives. Authors begun question the churches actions

“Copernicus…was cast in much the same role as was Erasmus who had set out to re-do the work of Saint Jerome. Both men set out to fulfill traditional programs: to emend the Bible and reform the Church; to emend the Almagest and help with calendar reform; but both used means that were untraditional and this propelled their work in an unconventional direction, so that they broke new paths in the very act of seeking to achieve old goals (71).

The work of Erasmus paved the way for the Protestant Reformation and the work of Copernicus upset the entirety of Medieval cosmology (25, Dewar)”.

Leading many individuals to use the innovation technology, the printing press as a weapon against the church’s dissatisfaction. Which had lead to the protestant reformation. Many individuals had begun separating themselves from the church. This was a turning point in history, where society began leaving the control and guidance of the church. The development of the printing press allowed for the mass production and availability of books, leading to societies change in the development and spread of knowledge.

Technology is crucial for the progression of society throughout history. The development of the printing press allowed for a long term, durable passage of knowledge through books. Which has lead to evolvement of ideals and beliefs. Leading to society flourishing in modernism. Without the development of the printing press, new innovative technology such as the Internet would have not been created without the printing press. Societies continuous growth and development throughout time all depends on the innovation of technology from the basic technology of the printing press.

Work Cited




Koscielniak, Bruce. “Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. <http://books.google.com/books?id=QeU1kuJTmkoC>.


One comment

  1. Victoria,

    Good paper, well written. This is definitely a chicken or egg argument. Which knowledge is more powerful the one that starts the discovery process or the next one that evolves. The concept of diminishing returns. Is the first action the most powerful all the time? Well if I strike a match and drop it into a bunch of leaves and those leaves cause a serious brushfire that goes across an entire county was the match the greater impact or the fire that destroyed the houses?
    Tough question to answer but the one we need to discuss.

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