Eisenstein described much of this in her writings. Her larger point is that the world was never the same again. As she explained to me, we no longer register the impact of the printing press because we have no easy way to retrieve the ambient sensation of “before,” just as we can’t retrieve, and can barely imagine, what life was like when only scattered licks of flame could pierce the darkness of night. At first glance, printing seems like just a more efficient way of doing what people were doing anyway: making words and images available to others. But it was a revolution—many revolutions, really, most of them unforeseeable. Consider what it meant to own books personally and read them silently, rather than having to hear words read aloud: No one knew what you were up to in the privacy of your home. Writers and publishers wanted some degree of ownership—hence the new concepts of copyright and intellectual property. More books and rising literacy created an eyeglass industry, which in turn brought advances in lens-making, which ultimately made possible the telescope and spelled the end of biblical cosmology. The printing press transformed religion, science, politics; it put information, misinformation, and power in the hands of more people than ever before; it created a celebrity culture as poets and polemicists vied for fame; and it loosened the restraints of authority and hierarchy, setting groups against one another. This shattered the status quo in ways that proved liberating but also lethal: If the printing press deserves some of the credit for democracy and the Enlightenment, it also deserves some of the blame for chaos and slaughter. As Edward Snowden observes in his new book, Permanent Record: “Technology doesn’t have a Hippocratic oath.”

From Our Predictions About the Internet Are Probably Wrong by Cullen Murphy

Hello. My name is Bix. @bix