Heather McDonald – Internet vs. Printing Press
In the 15th century, the way in documenting history was changed through the creation of the printing press. For the people in that time it had become a way to mass produce documents of history, which in the past took months or even years to create one copy of. Although this device had revolutionized the world and created an ability to be more industrial, it’s successor built in the 1960’s was much more of an impact on society as a whole in communications and documentation of information. The printing press went only so far as people were able to transport their creations, limiting it to a localized setting, however with the Internet they were able to store and even send information around the world within seconds. To show how greater of an impact the internet is, I’ll give comparisons between it and the history of video games and it’s development as well as other aspects of its history. As with all things, there is a basic starting point, which grows with time and the knowledge of individuals that brings something small to great heights in success.
The development of video game companies started out quite similar to the printing press despite the huge gap in centuries and resources. While the printing press was expanding the traditional ways of documentation through technology, traditional games were being put into a digital world where you can have a different type of interaction and entertainment. Instead of needing someone there to play with you, you can play with a computer generated AI. Similarly, instead of having to write down every word perfectly for one document, you could run the paper through a machine that would automatically print the words onto it with much less effort on the persons part. Both made a huge impact on how the world did these two things but over time, the creation of the Internet took that to a whole different level. As stated in the History of the Internet, “Even as its beginnings were humble, no one could have predicted its amazing growth through the last several decades. The Internet has brought us so much information and not only to the social and business elite, but to the entire world.”1 Although the rise of print technology enhanced the efficiency of building manuscripts, books and documents, it didn’t expand itself enough to be throughout the whole world. It was stagnant to local areas that they were able to spread it to, however it inspired the people of later dates to create something that would not only record information but, do everything that the printing press couldn’t. Also, throughout time and the advancement of these technologies, print had barely made a change in its original design. The processes and resources may have changed, such as going from papyrus to newsprint and other types of paper, but the basic composition of it has not. This is wildly different from how the Internet has built up and spread to things such as games, telephones, computers and even transportation.
Mentioned on wikipedia on the social impact of the rise of the Internet, “the Internet has enabled entirely new forms of social interaction, activities, and organizing, thanks to its basic features such as widespread usability and access.”2 These features are some of the aspects of modern technology that has been growing and outstretches past what the capabilities of the printing press ever done in the past centuries. That social interaction grew from the humble dial-up connection to digital connections with more advanced e-mail, social networking, chat messaging, and especially video games. All of these things interlock and give users the ability to share information at lightning speeds through a broadband connection. However, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the invention of the printing press. I find that technologies, that are built and are expanded on or influence further technology is a catalyst or revolution to a new age. Calligraphy and other manual types of writing is a catalyst to the printing press as the printing press is to the creation of the Internet. This gives people the ability to look at the production of information in an open view as a way to connect people nationally and internationally. However, I find that the thing that impacts more on society is not the inspiration but the product of that inspiration and the complexity of the final product. So as time and technology advances the impact of it increases as well.
To clarify more with similarities, the reason why the internet grew into something so massive and impacting on society today is not entirely about what goes into it but in how much they did in such a short span of time. “Since the Internet was initially funded by the government, it was originally limited to research, education, and government uses.”3 Only until the 1990’s, about thirty years after the starting ideas of it had been made, did the Internet start to speed up the production all because of the realization of how valuable it was. It has only been about twenty-three years that built it up from databases and basic e-mail providers to having Internet “hot spots”, holographic concerts and multiplayer online gaming. This was drastically different from the printing press where it’s creation and advancements happened between the 15th and 20th centuries, dying down because of the creation of hot metal-typesetting and eventually internet based type.4 An ironic quote from a game that I’ve played called Assassins Creed Brotherhood makes it obvious just how important change is to history. A character in it named Shaun Hastings was talking about how the town they were in never changed and said, “History is the study of change. Change is life. When something becomes static, that just means it’s dead.” This is a good way of representing how history works just like in technology. When something is still ever changing like the Internet, it’s still alive and impacting the world immensely with every new invention based off it. However, despite it’s history, the printing press failed to continue what it started and eventually began to die out.
All in all, just by analyzing how long these two things have been in use and how far they have gone both internally and externally, you can find that the most impacting thing on the world is decided by what changes the most and what affects the most people during that time. People back in the 15th century thought that the printing press was the most life changing thing for scribes and honestly it was, but with time there has to be change and without change there won’t be history and there won’t even be a change in society itself. As much as I’d like to say that the printing press was the most impacting because it was the start of print technology, I have to deny it because overall the affects of the Internet brought such a widespread change to the world that there is no debate which did the most.