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Write an Essay on Long Term Social Impacts of the Printing Press.

Innovation of the printing press

The ride of the modern information technology was started with innovating the printing press in the Europe. The printing press was first established in Germany between the year 1446 and 1450. Therefore, the practice of the printing press had spread through Europe and by the year 1500, there were around two hundred fifty printing presses around the entire Europe, where eighty of them were in Italy, forty three were in France, and around fifty two were in Germany. The extension of printing press had also reached other places in Europe as well. This revolutionary initiative broke out during the time of revolution, therefore the discussions about the Renaissance being the European phenomena and discussions regarding humanism had taken place all over Europe. During this time, the history of this continent has developed in a triumphal rhythm. Prior to this invention, the productions of books were limited to a specific section of the society, as all the books were handwritten. Therefore these books were expensive and rare which indicated that the middle and lower classes of the society were not being able to obtain those easily. However, Johannes Gutenberg had changed all of these by inventing the printing press. These new invention had a long term effects which influenced the society in various ways. This essay will discuss the long term social impacts of the invention of the printing press.

The printing press has impacted the society in different ways such as economically, politically and culturally. Without the invention, it would be difficult to imagine how the society would be in the present time. Robert Logan writes that “…with the printing press we finally encounter a technology whose impact on the use of the alphabet is so great that it must be ranked in importance with the alphabet itself. For not only did the printing press greatly multiply access to alphabetic texts, it also, through the regularity it introduced, transformed the way in which the alphabetic text was placed on the page and was perceived by its readers.” Therefore this was also necessary for the narrative of the alphabetic literacy. The scholars also claim that the initial printing has brought a magnified change to the society by introducing the alphabet. Before this invention, the scribes had only used the variant spelling and the punctuations were irregular, therefore the readers of those texts most of the times had to read out those texts for interpreting them. If the geographical pattern of the diffusion of the printing technology can looked at, it will indicate that there is an exogenous variation in the adoption of the technology. The evolution of the printing technology had fostered the skills and knowledge that are valuable to the society. The print media today plays a significant role in the steady growth of culture, emerging of the business cultural, education and many more. However, the invention of printing press had both the immediate and long term effects. The invention of the printing press includes several immediate effects on the society by spreading the printed books with ease. Prior to the invention the process of making a book was long, however, the printing presses allowed to produce books within a fraction of second, also it was being produced in large numbers. With the large amount of books which were getting published at that time, enhanced the price of books to drop in a significant manner. The books were accessible to everyone, especially the lower class people; therefore people were creating their own collection of books. More works were published, which eventually helped in spreading the knowledge all around the world.

Printing press impacts on society

The art of the rhetoric became more widespread through the written languages that were being attributed after the invention of the printing press. Without this, the world perhaps would not go under the cultural changes which have been made possible with the improved communication system through the written languages. However, only producing the manuscripts in bulks was not the sole effect of the printing press, rather it brought radical changes in the society and the culture in the western world. There were several other impacts on the culture that involved the huge spread of the knowledge and the religious information, especially the nationalism. In the acceleration of spreading the rhetoric, the printing press acted like a throttle, which it gave these sectors of knowledge a new audience as they would not have to depend on the oral speeches anymore. The value of education shifted to the printed books and its capability of pervade in an effective an efficient way.

Since the occurrence of printing presses, the significant impact of printing press has been examined by several intellectuals. Elizabeth Eisentein, one of the famous critics and an American historian of French Revolution, analyzed the impact of the printing press on the technological changes, thus the change of culture in Europe. Eisentein also indicated in her book that, “print has been recognized as the transformative force in and on history: the history of ideas, religion and politics”. The critic has also described elaborately that even if the printing press had affected the culture and society indirectly, but it had changed the technology in a positive way, therefore improved and enhanced long term effects. This book also differs from the other critiques on the impact of the printing press as it focused more on the indirect effects of the printing press rather than the direct effects. The critic has also argued in her book that the change in technology had changed the culture in both the positive and negative way.

The printing press had played a significant role in the distribution of knowledge. The books became more available as the printing presses had allowed the publishers and authors to share their own ideas. Prior to the creation of the printing press, the only method the publishers, authors and intellectuals had in order to share their concepts was through their papers, letters, or copying the books which was a long procedure. However, with the easiness of the printing presses, they could reach their findings to the general population. This had allowed the other scholars to get their idea and interoperate the necessary information that had enhanced the other researches. In addition that, the printing press had speed up the procedure of publishing the books that benefitted the population in the long run.

Immediate and long term effects of the printing press

Printing press was the primary beginning of the collaboration and further communication among people who wanted to build up more data for creating a knowledgeable and connected community. These distribution of new ideas and concepts were not only limited to the academic sphere, but the religion was greatly benefitted from this innovation as well. The Gutenberg Bible was the first ever book published from the first printing press. The development of printing has benefitted the Roman Empire at the same time. The sharing of new ideas had allowed the authorities of churches to expand their religion across the world. This also allowed him to be one of the strongest empires around the world. However, the reactions that came against the corrupted empires also gained population due to the sharing of ideas. When Martin Luther claimed the Holy Roman Empire to be a corrupted and flawed empire through his document “95 Theses”, it gained attraction due to the published books. Martin Luther had printed several copies of his theses and posted it into various places that spread his concepts across Germany, then across the whole Europe which ultimately affected the Holy Roman Churches ruling. Therefore it can be said that, at that time, no matter a concept is encouraged or supported, the innovation of printing press has allowed it to share across the countries.

The revolutionary change that the printing press had brought into the society had influenced the development of the worldwide. The prices had fallen tremendously therefore it had led to a rise in the literacy rate of Europe in a significant way as the amount of people who are to read had risen with the availability of the books. As a result to it, the rise of the literature into its present form had taken place. People had started reading books; therefore the reading styles and the grammatical issues had got more influence because of the entertainment provided to the people who could read. The novels and other fiction pieces started emerging with the course of time, the literature began to evolve, and people started criticizing and analyzing those pieces of texts. The education among the common people of the Europe had increased with more people growing interest in reading. Not only the people who started reading, but also the people who could not read at that time were receiving more and more knowledge from different sources around them. This grew interest in reading and education. The printing press also influenced the emergence of science and math, therefore it both of these communities cooperatively developed themselves. People had more interest in researches and proving new things, than the previous time when people only discussed the ones what already have been proved and repeated numbers of time. They could also increase their knowledge on different subjects and could take it to another degree.

Printing press and distribution of knowledge

The print media had evolved due to the innovation of printing press. The print media had fostered the growth of the business practice and provided many other benefits to the population. The growth of the trade and commerce at that point of time was highly influenced by the emergence of print media. The scholars have indicated how the cities have adopted the technology of printing that enhanced the growth of the ports. Print media had developed the bourgeois competences and a new social incline of professionals. The printing were spread in order to meet different merchants, lawyers, substantial artisans, government officials, teachers and many more who wanted to conduct the civic affairs. The importance of print media in the distribution of the innovative ideas in the industrial sectors was limited beforehand. In the long run, more books started printing regarding practical and scientific information. The level of scientific technology had spread rapidly at that point of time. With the population getting more creative and growing interest towards knowledge, the worldview was changing with the course of time.

Another significant social impact that printing press had is the reach of reformation and the growth of religion in the society. It all started with Martin Luther nailing the Ninety five themes at the doors of All Saints Church, which later sparked to become the Protestant Reformation. Soon the reformation has echoed throughout the Northern Europe. A similar contemporary movement had emerged at the same time with the similar kinds of principles in the Swiss Confederation. The message of Reformation has spread in various cities through the pamphlets and broadsheets, which were mostly written by the leaders of the reformers. The reformation was highly manipulated by the invention of the printing press. Many scholars commented that it is like coincident that two of the most noteworthy in the western world, Protestant reformation and the spread of orienting press, had occurred at almost the same time. It can also be said that the reformers had engaged the first ever propaganda campaign which was performed through the press as a medium. Both the events had a close connection between the reformation and then printing press and the connection can also be seen as the supply side one, which shed light on the fact that how new found information technology played a vital role in spreading the Lutheran ideas. With the help of the printing press the reformers were capable of spreading their ideas through pamphlets to educate the preachers and other people who were religious minded, thus brought the reformation in the villages and the cities. “[The printing press is] God’s highest and ultimate gift of grace by which He would have His Gospel carried forward.” – Martin Luther (quoted in Spitz 1985). Luther had argued that the printing was a symbol of the God’s grace, not only because the creation of the sermons, biblical texts and broadsheets. The small pamphlets which were eight pages books had provided a concealable, reasonably priced and easily portable mediums for the reformers to spread their ideas. Prior to the innovation, the higher transport costs were barrier for the spread of knowledge. Therefore the spread of reformation had evolved the society and the religion at the same time. The scholars have argued that the spread of the Protestant Christianity has spread die to the creation of printing press. With the help of printing presses, the general population was able to see corrupted part of the religion. The documents and the maps show that where most of the people were catholic during the 1550s, most of the people turned to Protestantism during the 1560s. They were either Protestants, or mix of catholic and Protestants. The change that the printing press into the society could not be measured with scales, rather it had a long term effect on the contemporary society.

Printing press and communication

The printing press had also enhanced the information age. In today’s life information has affected a huge range of human in different significant ways. The businesses have flourished and globalized, people are busy with their mobile phones and the computers. The information technology is still developing also in a furious pace. There are so many sections of the society that are being affected by the information technology, although there are many effects that are temporary, many are even insignificant. There are undesirable and contradictory ones too. There are several different opinions about the categorization of the technological deeds. The historians see the future of the information technology where they draw on the parallels with past. With the printing press the information revolution had started which was followed by the industrial and agricultural revolution that came as waves in the human history. Several links can be found in both the information era and the printing press era, as both of them had brought changes in their times. The changes that the information age has brought are almost as dramatic as the changes the printing press had brought. The printing press had enhanced the Renaissance, the reformation and the scientific revolutions and all of them had important effects on their time, which exactly the information age does. However, the beginning of the information technology was all started with printing press. With the emergence of printing press, there was a technological breakthrough in the communication system. The networking had stared; therefore it was directly related with the capability of communication. The printing press had also elevated the status of the common people in changing the social relationship as the printing press had given the chance to the common people to learn and be educated. The common people had the opinions about different topics that were going on as they got to read and learn about things. The publishing of the books also had an impact on the language of the commoners. It eventually standardized the language, so that many people can communicate within a same language. Therefore it increased the social interaction amongst different groups in the society. The printing press had given people a chance to publish their innovative ideas in the newspapers, books, magazines that had enhanced the increase in the quality as it led the different social classes to interact. Many critics opine that no other innovation can be compared with the creation of printing press, other than the breakthrough of internet in the twentieth century. However the internet invention cannot be attributed to a specific person, but Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf are the two people who had invented the transmission control protocol that move the data in the present day internet. The internet has also changed the social interactions like it did in the times of printing press. However, many believe that the invention of the printing press had gradually led to the breakthrough of internet. It can be seen as a chain reaction.

Literacy and education growth due to printing press


In conclusion, it can be said that the printing press can be considered as one of the greatest advances in the technology, as this was the first time when the spread of the knowledge, ideas, and skills became easier with the low cost production of the books. Even at the present time, the books are considered as a form of education and the entertainment which are now the most significant part of the regular life. The spreading of the information, be it scientific, juridical, philosophical, the spreading of the literatures in a huge quantity and the rapid spread of knowledge after the innovation, had entirely transformed the society and culture in not only Europe but also around the world. The education systems had evolved with the new books and with the knowledge of reading. The distribution of the production of art had begun with this invention as the artisans have started diffusing the graphic motifs and the themes of the arts. With the progression of the mass media with the help of the printing era had marked itself in the map of Europe. The massive and quick spreading of the information had apparently destroyed all the circulation of the previous information in a moderate way. The printing press had enhanced the de-masification of the communication and interaction. The reading had also given birth to a lonely man, the post modernist who will slowly replace the modern man of the modern era. The mass is the real phenomenon that that gave birth to the idea of personality development in this era. It also showed the disappearance of the personality of the community and the maturity of the sole personality. The printing press therefore had several long term effects on the society that is still influencing the modern men.


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