Printing Press Vs. The Internet
The biggest question right now is about both the Printing Press and the Internet. Which has had the biggest impact on today’s society? Before I get further into my decision for which had more of an impact, lets begin by talking about each invention separately. As a child you learn that Johannes Gutenberg created the Printing Press. Gutenberg had invented a way to make books mechanically that required less time and allowed mass production of a specific works to be possible. Before that, all books that were duplicated were done by hand, which could take an extreme amount of time (even years). After the handmade technique, there was the use of wood as a printing block with words carved into them but the lifespan of wood isn’t always long so there was no guarantee to how long it would last.
The printing press came along in 1436 when he began experimenting with certain metal typography which are known as letterpress printing, knowing that wood carving takes a great deal of time. The metal type could be “reproduced more quickly once a single mold had been fashioned”(“Great Idea Finder”). The bible was said to be printed around 1450 by Gutenberg, which lead to a huge book boom in Europe, a large part being Bibles in 1452 (“Great Idea Finder”). Although many books were being sold, Gutenberg barely made any money on his creation. Once he was able to show that his press could print a two volume bible and sell it for significantly cheaper than they were going for when the monks were scribing them (taking 20 years to do so). It took less time and less money which was a huge step for him.
After Gutenberg’s death, print-houses had become “established in more than 2500 cities in Europe” and 15 million books were created, but often only available for the scholars. The printing press had set up a foundation for mass production of books making them cheaper and wider available so that wider parts of the population (even the non-rich) could afford them(“Great Idea Finder”).
Although the Printing Press was a huge deal back then, there is no question that the Internet has had a bigger impact today. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t used the internet, or a single friend who doesn’t have a smart phone which is like having the World Wide Web in your pocket. Whenever I am unsure about a fact I immediately turn to Google, there seems to be little to no need for books anymore. J.C.R Licklider of MIT wrote a series of memos in August 1962 discussing a concept called “Galactic Network” and he envisioned it being “globally interconnected through a set of computers of which could be used to access data very quickly from any site”(“Internet Society”). He was using packets rather than circuits for communications, which was a huge step toward computer networks. The most complicated part of it all was making computers be able to talk to each other. Internet is defined as “the global information system that is logically linked by globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its subsequent extensions/follow ons […]”(“Internet Society”). The internet has changed a lot since its 20 or so years of existence and the more it changed, the bigger the impact has become.
The internet has even been used in the military, it can be used to set off missiles or remotely move a camera in space. The printing press was able to provide numbers of people a copy of a book for a cheaper price but are they able to give it to someone across the country? Of course not, it would be costly and take a long amount of time. With the internet, if I want to send a copy of my favorite book I can give the gift of an eBook which can be downloaded in Australia or Canada, wherever there is internet access available. Also, a book can be changed into a different language online with a touch of a button. With the printing press, that wasn’t as easily possible. People are able to voice their opinions on just about anything without a publisher or a degree, and it’s done all over the world, accessible all over the world. Can the same thing be said about the printing press? Of course we will never know if the internet would have been possible without the printing press. Although we cannot tell the future, I believe that more innovations will be made due to the access granted by the Internet and with that I conclude that the Internet did and always will have the biggest impact.
“Brief History of the Internet.” Internet Society. N.p., n. d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. <http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/what-internet/history-internet/brief-history-internet>.
“Printing Press.” The Great Idea Finder. N.p., 01 May 2007. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. <http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/printpress.htm>.