Describe your person’s contribution to mass media development and their impact upon it…………
Printing is the process of making copies of documents using alphabetic or numeric characters. In the medieval age, scribes were employed to copy documents by hand. A scribe had to have spent several years training as an apprentice to perfect their skill of copying. The process was slow and laborious making the produced manuscripts rare and expensive to acquire. Printing made it possible to produce many copies in a short time making the readily available and at a lower cost (Srinivasan 2).
The revolution of printing was the work of Johannes Gutenberg. According to Burch’s Fine Print: A Story about Johann Gutenberg, Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany around 1400. The exact year of his birth is not known. Little else is noted about his life other than he was a goldsmith and had worked with other metals before he invented the printing press. It is believed that his was not the first printing press, but a modification of the concept that previous models were based on.
As a goldsmith, Gutenberg knew how to make moulds of letters, called type, as opposed to the whole page models that were being used previously. His model became famous since it had a greater impact due to the fact that its type was movable and allowed for the rearrangement of the characters to print a different page. He made thousands of these then assembled them together to replicate a page of a book. This assembled block would be used to make hundreds of pages that were identical to each other using a pressure press derived from machines used to press grapes in the wine making industry. He would then disassemble the block and reassemble it to make another page (Shaw 21).
In 1450, Gutenberg entered into an arrangement with a German businessman Johannes Fust who agreed to finance Gutenberg’s idea to start a printing business. His aim was to print bibles that he would then sell to the church and priests to make money. The arrangement later ended after a disagreement when the Guttenberg’s Bible was being printed. Fust went to court to acquire the printing business since Gutenberg had not repaid his loan and won the case. Gutenberg lost his business and died a poor man in 1468. Credit for the invention of the press was given to Fust and he benefited financially from it. It wasn’t until much later that Fust gave credit to Gutenberg as the inventor of the printing press.
IMPACTS OF THE INVENTION
The invention of the printing press dramatically changed the world. It led to mass production of literature. After the first printing press was developed, several copies were made all over Europe leading to production of more books and making them available to the residents. This led to the building of libraries to store all the books and journals that were printed in the subsequent years.
The invention turned books from an expensive luxury to a common item. Intellectual property therefore became no longer exclusive to the courts and churches or the privileged in the society. A reading culture then developed among the lay men too. This too led to the construction of schools and colleges in the society as areas where people could go read and gain knowledge.
The printing press invention revolutionized the literacy state in Europe due to the rapid spread of knowledge and information. People no longer had to depend on masters to teach them a skill or language. The accessibility of books meant they could study privately. This laid the foundation for other inventions in education, science, business and politics.
The adversely affected people were the scribes lost their livelihoods after the invention of the press. Some of them however embraced the new technology and became printers. Those who insisted on the art of hand copying books were forced out of business by the revolution, since they took longer to replicate books and sold them for a lot more than the printed copies.
How is the invention of the printing press relevant to the modern world? With the invention of the printing press came development of technology. The concept of the printing press is believed to be the founding step to development of computers and other electrical devices like the printers, scanners and photocopiers. Scientists have invented computers that have made typing easier and faster. The use of photocopiers and scanners to produce replicas of documents in exactly the same format has improved the accuracy in production of informative articles in masses. Computers have also revolutionized the world further especially in media and communication.
The printing press also paved way for the invention and development of media. Newspapers were first used to advertise the new books published by agents. The use of the newspapers then changed and they became a tool used to pass news across to the people and are still used for the same purpose to the present day. The newspaper concept has also evolved and seen the publication of magazines, directories, catalogues and brochures to store important information and for advertisement.
The fact that Gutenberg’s press made identical pages led to the introduction of page numbers and header titles. This improved the referencing of passages from books and improved the overall order of the pages and information therein. These page numbers and arrangement of information are used in academic circles in the citation of information retrieved from copyrighted sources to prevent patent breach.
Had Gutenberg not invented the printing press, what would the world be like? With no readily available books, newspapers and computers, many of the discoveries would not have been possible. The gap between the elite and the illiterate would only be wider than it currently is. In some areas democracy would be unheard of. The larger population would be uneducated and would rely on the decisions made by the elite few in the society. Due to lack of knowledge, they would have no basis to argue or challenge the decisions imposed on them. The elite would probably abuse their status to oppress the rest.
The cultural aspect of the modern day society would also be many steps behind. The cultures of two distant communities would differ greatly due to their limited interaction and knowledge of the cultural dynamic of the other community. The limited interaction would also imply that advancements made in science would take ages to reach a distant community as opposed to the status now. History would be passed down generations by word of mouth due to the scarcity of written material or documented journals on the events that occur. In an oral culture, knowledge is performed rather than owned. The information and knowledge is also subject to the language and memory of the person passing it on (Harrison 34). Hence, corrupt leaders would control whatever information was passed on to the people or would alter the facts in the process.
The people would also not have a platform to express their opinions and ideas. Forums to address social injustices and other issues affecting the society would be non-existent. Religious leaders would teach people their interpretation of the bible thereby imposing their religious beliefs, right or wrong, on the uninformed people. Formal education systems would not have been set up and the old system of passing knowledge that involved master-apprentice interaction would probably be practiced in the modern day.
The invention of the press also paved way to literature translation into other languages. Initially mostly Latin literature was available making it a ‘universal’ language. A sizeable amount of literature would still be in Latin had printing not be invented since it would take thousands of years to make copies of books in other languages. This would strip people the pride of speaking in their mother tongues and the beauty of such diversity.
Modern forms of communication have also been greatly influenced by printing. The telegrams, faxes and now emails are all a resulting impact of the invention of the printing press and the formal education system. With no books, people would not have learned to read and write, hence more traditional and rather inefficient modes of communication would still be in practice today.
Gutenberg may not have received credit for his revolutionary work during his lifetime, but the ramifications of his work are still felt to date and his legacy still lives on.
Harrison, Jackie. News. 2006. Routledge. Print.
Johansen, Joann. Fine Print: A Story about Johann Gutenberg. 1991. Burch Lerner Publishing Group. Print.
Shaw, Ron. Great Inventors and Inventions 2003. Curriculum Corporation. Print
Srinivasan, Archana. Great Inventors. 2006. Sura Books Ltd. Print
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