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Gutenberg’s Revolution vs. the Internet Revolution

Can you imagine how surreal it seemed to people in the 15th century to witness a blacksmith printing on an actual paper? Well, looking back at the past 20 years of the Internet evolving can give us an idea of how it felt back. In 1453 Johannes Gutenberg, a worker on the blacksmith forge, devised the printing press, that allowed him to print books faster, in a larger quantity, and cheaper than handwritten books. Now, 500 years later, a similar phenomenon called “Internet” is as disruptive. But what makes a mass printing and World Wide Web look alike? Let’s see.

With the invention of printing, information became available to almost everyone. We could easily open a book for some “brain food.” Today most people use Internet as an information source, however books are still the go to source for many. Society has become more educated and open to taking in new information with both inventions. If we use our resources such as books and Internet properly, we could gain enormous amount of benefits in terms of knowledge.

Unfortunately, not everybody wants to use books and the Internet as a knowledge advantage. Some people search for ways to influence the audience through these media, and not always in a good way. When Gutenberg’s invention spread more widely, some controversial books started to come up. One of them was “The Malleus Maleficarum,” a book that described the ways of torturing and killing “witches.” The book remained the second on list of the most popular books after Bible for almost 200 years. Nowadays, those who want may easily find extremist supporting groups on the Internet, and even fund them.

The last aspect but not least is social. Reading books or surfing the Internet is great, but how often do you catch yourself thinking “I wish my spouse/sister/friend could shut down that laptop so we can hang out together, and talk like normal human beings”? Sometimes we spend so much time staring at the screens that we do not see anything around us. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I did not live in 15th century, and have no idea if books used to be “time-eaters” as the Internet is today. However, I know that when something new gets invented, people tend to show interest in it, and books could’ve been the case as well.

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