Perhaps 200 years from now, historians will be calling the 21st Century the “End of the Age of Gutenberg.” The development of movable type in the 1400s slowly nudged knowledge and information past the gates of shadowy cloisters into the public, commercial realm. With (lots of) time and further innovation, Gutenberg’s vision of standardized and mechanized print reproduction eventually changed the world by expanding almost everyone’s horizon.
Dangerous stuff. With information in the hands of people like Tom Watson, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates, we now see Gutenberg’s invention as being in the midst of a kind of creative destruction. Print has become only one means of finding out what we want and need to know. Even with the plethora of communication options available today, print can still claim a certain permanence and prestige that many new media lack, not to mention print’s cozy familiarity – the feel of the paper, the smell of the ink.