Art 85-D’Errico Paper 2

When new technology is invented, there will always be an influence on society, which is what happened with both the printing press and internet. But which one had a greater impact on society? This paper will discuss the advent of the printing press and the internet as well as the effects that each had on society in terms of communicating knowledge and education. I will speak about why the advent of the internet caused a greater impact than the advent of the printing press

So what impact does mean? According to Oxford, impact means to have a strong effect on someone or something. So which invention had a stronger effect? Let’s look at the printing press first. According to the Wikipedians, the world’s first movable type printing technology was invented and developed in China by the Han Chinese printer Bi Sheng between the years 1041 and 1048. In the West, the invention of an improved movable type mechanical printing technology in Europe is credited to the German printer Johannes Gutenberg in 1450. With the advent of the printing press, books were being printed faster, and jobs were being created. Knowledge was becoming more readily available to people. But with the advent of the internet, people were beginning to find new ways to communicate and spread ideas and knowledge. The internet was invented sometime around the late 1960s. The first two nodes of what would become the ARPANET were interconnected on October 29, 1969. People could connect in ways they were unable to before. Jobs were also being created not only to work for manufacturing computers and hardware but also to work for individual websites, and companies.

The printing press was a “factor in the establishment of a community of scientists who could easily communicate their discoveries through the establishment of widely disseminated scholarly journals” (Wikipedia). With the printing press you had to be some kind of an intellectual in order to spread ideas and communicate discoveries, you had to be considered someone who was ‘knowledgeable’ in a particular subject. This did allow for a flow of knowledge, but it was restricted. The internet allows anyone with access to a computer the capability of communicating their ideas with the world. While sometimes this means that unreliable sources could spread information, it also means that there will be thousands more sources all with differing viewpoints. And this is can all be done for free. If you want to publish a book you can but it will cost you, where a blog is free and many more people will have access to it.

Now looking at the both the printing press and internet you will notice that the knowledge spread by the printing press was very centralized, while the internet was worldwide. You had to live in an area in which there was a printing press in order to quickly receive information. This means that not everyone would receive the same level of education, so the impact generated was not the same around the world. With the internet everyone has access to the same information with or without owning a computer. Someone could post something in Australia and someone could view it in the United States, and talk about it with someone in England. The internet allows for a much more global effect. You could say that a library allowed people to have greater access to books however, the library does not house every book, whereas the internet has the same information readily available to everyone.

Now what about the printing press and internet in terms of education? Say you wanted to teach a class about the Colosseum in Italy. You could bring in a book from the library that talked about it and included a picture or two. But you also could go onto a website that let you take a virtual tour. Or even better you could set up a web chat with someone wearing Google glasses in Rome and have them walk around give you a live tour. The internet allows you to be places and see things that books simply cannot. Most high school students would not be interested in looking at pictures in a textbook, but if they got to go on a virtual trip through Rome, you can bet that you will get more students to pay attention.

What if you wanted to show your students paintings in a museum but did not have the funding to go there? This is where museum websites come into play. A book could show you what the paintings look like but it does not allow you to zoom so that you can see the artist’s brushstrokes, (and most museums don’t allow you to get that close in person).  It does not allow you to see what the inside of the museum looks like and what paintings are hung next to one another. There is so much more that you can do with the internet that books will never have the capability to do.

Books have not changed much since they first came about. Sure they might have nicer, clearer color images, but they still do the same thing, they still serve the same purpose. The internet has been evolving and changing since it was first invented. From e-mails, to instant messaging, to FaceTime, the internet is constantly improving. There are always new ways to communicate and spread knowledge, and quicker too. The only thing that has changed with books is the process used to make them, but their impact on society has remained the same since the invention of the printing press. The internet has already changed so much and it isn’t even done yet. To this day the internet is still improving and people are finding new ways to do things. While books are still just books.

While the printing press and the internet both had an impact on society, the effect of the internet was much more widespread. It established more of a connection around the world and gave everyone the same information. The internet has just started to grow and it has already changed so much. There is no telling of what the internet will do next.


“Definition of Impact in English.” Impact: Definition of Impact in Oxford Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. <;.

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

“Printing Press.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. <;.

“Roman Colosseum, Italy • 360° Aerial Panorama.” N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. <;.


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