“I would suggest that we can trace the birth of Social Media to the invention of the Printing Press” — Nicola Homer

Today, Nicola gave us a very far-ranging lecture about the invention of the Printing Press, its social impact on people from the 1450s up till current time, and the how its invention shaped human life and language.

Prior to the invention of the Printing Press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1450, Medieval Manuscript culture didn’t change or progress for about 1000 years. Marshall McLuhan suggests that writing and scripture of that era was honoured through speech, and this was probably because not many people had access to medieval manuscripts and would pay visits to churches and other communal spaces to listen to scripture of ideas being read aloud.

The repeatability and reliable reproduction methods brought about with the creation of the Printing Press by Johannes Gutenberg allowed printers to reproduce texts faster, and this brought a new wave of cultural discourse and information dissemination to Europe. More people had access to the printed word, and this allowed people to formulate their own opinions and thoughts on what popular ideas of the era meant to them. This helped people to question ideas and inculcated a culture of learning and sharing.

The Printing Press helped shape language; the conventions and restrictions of standardisation allowed languages that would otherwise have many differences when spoken to be regulated through the standard set of letters used to set and print text. The Printing Press and the eventual rise of Letterpress printing gave the layman the avenue of having his or her voice being physically legitimised in printed form.

Pamphlets, broadsides and other posters were used to convince and influence people, and also to call people to action. The role social media plays in our society now is nothing different; we contribute to this pool of collective information and allow it to influence and manipulate our thinking of our modern era.

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