Reisig-Internet vs Printing press

The advent and creation of drastically new and innovative technologies and or ideas in a society always has a tremendous impact on the society that adopts it. Societies thus depend on these advancements in technology in order to advance the civilization as a whole. However, the impact of the introduction of the new technology does not just impact life in the area that it is created in first, but the wide spread adaptation of certain ideas or technology, can be used to level the playing field and make the entire civilization stronger as a whole. The introduction of the printing press and the Internet did just this. By introducing these two very important innovative technologies to a society, it not only levels the playing field between the social economic classes, but also it gives the opportunity for ideas to be spread at a considerably faster pace. Even though both of these ideas had a tremendous impact on the societies that they were implemented in, the Internet had a far greater impact on society as a whole. As a result of it impacting much more widespread audience at once, allowing for the transmission of information faster, and also the ability to give a voice to every one who has access to it.

Both the printing press and the Internet widened the audience that could be reached dramatically. Before the advent of the printing press the main way information was transmitted was through the word of mouth. However, this lead to many inaccuracies since the human memory is not perfect. The printing press allowed a faster and more accurate means of communicating information since it was able to write down exactly what the author intended to say, and it was copied with out variation. This greatly increased the spread of ideas since it was not just limited to the people who were actually at specific event, or talked to the creator of the idea, but to any one who could read and get their hands on the printed piece. This not only made information spread at a faster rate to a much larger audience than ever before, but also at the same time increased the rate of literacy worldwide. This is because of the more frequent and easier availability of the written word. A rise in literacy gave power to many people, since knowledge truly is power. When Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1425, the only way to transmit the majority of this information, was having people hand deliver the printed page to others who would hopefully do the same (“Printing Press.”). This was a very long process since there was no means of “modern” transportation. This made travel difficult and time consuming. As a result information did not travel very far from the original printing press it was created with. Thus making the cities that had an abundance of these new machines the information hubs, and the places with out it in the dark. Although the printing press enabled people to connect on a much wider basis than ever before, the Internet did this to an even greater extent. The Internet connects any one who has access to any computer or smart device, allowing one to spread information to any part of the world. This is very similar to the printing press since both spread information faster. The major difference is the Internet connects people worldwide. So anyone with a computer can connect with a different person or database across the world, allowing one to spread information worldwide (“Internet”). Thus allowing a greater possible network of people working together. Where the printing press still relied n physical human to Human contact to transmit information. Also the technology needed to take full advantage of the Internet was more readily available faster to the average consumer, than the printing press was at its start.  Metaphorically speaking, the printing press created a “linear” change. Meaning that there is a specific order of events that occurred for information to travel from point A to point B. However, the Internet is a more of a three-dimensional “web” process. Meaning information can be spread from one person to the next with out a distinct chain of events between the two. This not only makes the search for information faster but also the spread of it as well since once something is posted online any one can access it.

The printing press allowed for the first time, non-religious ideas to be able to be spread quickly and affordably. Before the advent of the printing press the majority of the information that was written down was of the religious nature, namely bibles were the first top seller. This is because the church was the only the one who could afford to have books made. Which was a very expensive time consuming task since every single page had to be drawn out by hand. As a result the only people who could create or own books were the extremely wealthy individuals or institutions, such as the Catholic church. With the introduction of the printing press it cut down the cost of production of books and other publications. Thus allowing a greater number of people the ability to spread their own ideas. This availability of new ideas extremely impacted the world. Leading to the success of many Revolutionary groups in Europe. Since the cost of production was much lower, printing was not just a luxury of the wealthy, but became the accesable voice of the many radical thinkers. The Internet took these ideas of giving a voice to the people to an exponential extent. Although the printing press allowed access to people other than the extremely wealthy to spread ideas, it still had some considerable cost. Thus making it still inaccessible for the very poor. However, the Internet brought down this price for a voice down even greater. Allowing for virtually every one to express themselves. Every one who has access to an Internet ready device, such as a computer or a smart phone can become his or her own publisher at virtually no cost. This allows even the poorest of the poor to express them selves on a worldwide scale. The Internet also allows many more mediums for people to express them selves. One can become a “traditional” blogger and set up a free blog, or post on the numerous social media sites available, or send millions of people information through email. Not only are all of these mediums of speech are for the most part free, but they also allow people to post images, video, sound, along with the written word. Where the printing press only allowed for the distribution of the written word, and some images, which were mostly etchings until the development of photography in the late 18th century. This idea is clearly represented in the events that took place recently in Syria (Sisario). Much of what the world knows about the gassing of the innocent civilian in Syria comes from the videos, pictures and recording from the individuals that were actually there, and then posted on various news and social media websites. With out the Internet this would not be possible, and as a result we would not have the first hand accounts and knowledge of the events that took place.

Although both innovations are important to our society, the advent of the Internet had a much greater impact since it was able to affect a much wider range of people. The Internet is only available as a result of the path that the printing press carved for it. For example, the printing press increased the literacy of the entire world by not making it a luxury of the wealthy. However this impact was not seen immediately. It took a very long time for this to happen, making the full impact of the printing press not seen fro centuries. Where the impact of the Internet was almost instantaneous. Not only was it very quickly and widely available in comparison to the printing press. But when people were finally able to access it, they were able to take full advantage since they already had the proper skill set to use it. However, this does not take away the importance of the Internet, since every great innovation is able to occur because of the results and knowledge formed as a result of its predecessors. As a result, the Internet undoubtedly had a greater effect because it allowed a greater range of people to become connected, allowed information to travel faster and help give a voice to any one who was able to access the technology.


Works Cited

“Internet.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. <;.

“Printing Press.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. <;.

Sisario, Ben. “For News From Syrian Battleground, a Reliance on Social Media.” New York Times. New York Times, 30 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. <;.



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