What Made the Printing Press So Important?

Information is everywhere. Modern technology allows us to instantly access the combined knowledge of the entire world on tiny devices in the palm of our hands. Well, maybe we’re not quite there yet, but lots of people are working on it. Libraries are digitizing their collections and sharing them for free online. Art galleries are providing online tours with amazingly high-definition pictures of their holdings. And people all over the world are busy sharing their ideas on social media, through blogs like this, and even by self-publishing books. It’s incredible.

But is this a good thing?

See, the tricky thing about information is its quality. I’m constantly barraged with articles and online posts that question the value of allowing anyone to post information online. Maybe people have radical ideas or a particular agenda to push, or maybe someone’s online poetry just isn’t very good.

The funny thing is that none of those arguments are new. The invention of the printing press created an enormous controversy about what could, and should, be printed and dispersed. As more and more printers opened shop, more and more controversial writings began to circulate. And yet the world survived, even when writers created works others found objectionable.

And its the same today. There’s just more being published.

Here’s a little video I made about the invention of the printing press and its effects on European society at the time. I hope you enjoy it.