“If art was the first great development in communication, language the second, and writing the third, the next epochal transformation was touched off in fifteenth-century Europe when a craftsman named Johannes Gutenburg perfected a machine for moveable type.” -Blur, Kovach and Rosenstiel
Imagine a world without the invention of the printing press. It’s nearly impossible. Its beyond my creative capacities to imagine what the world would look like without books, pamphlets, but more importantly journalism, or public opinion.
Had the printing press not been invented, the spread of information would not be feasible. With this spread of information came the notion that people can be self governing. With the notion that a population can be self governing stems the entire root of Western Civilization: democracy. The printing press gave us democracy. Let that sink in for a second. Democracy. The entirety of our society. Democracy. Printing Press. Thank God for Johannes Gutenburg.
Throughout the history of the world, there have been roughly 7 world changing, groundbreaking, life altering transformations in communication leading up to were we are today. These include the written word, the printing press, the telegraph, the radio, the television and newspapers, cable and continuous news, and finally digital technology and consumer choice.
Simply put, the rise of the Internet is like the falling of dominos. From 2000 to 2008 the increase in Internet use makes me dizzy. Here’s some fast facts compiled by Kovach and Rosentiel, the authors of Blur:
- In 2000, only 46% of adults in the US used the Internet. By 2008, 74% did.
- In 2000, only 5% had high-speed Internet at home. By 2008, 58% did.
- In 2000, only 50% of Americans owned a cell phone. By 2008, 82% did.
- In 2000, no one in America was wirelessly connected to the Internet. By 2008, 62% were.
And to think that these statistics are 6 years old. In just a decade and a half, society has completely made the switch to having access to news everywhere, anytime. The problem, however, is with the access of information available to virtually anyone, how can we know what we’re reading is reliable? Because Lord knows, you should believe everything you read on the Internet.