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overview

telegraph

telephone

the press

print images

photos

film

sound

radio

television

power

rail

highways

seas

air

space

impacts

bodies

metaphors

periodisation







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Profiles:

Print, Readers
& the Book


Bubbles

Postal
Systems


section heading icon     the press

This page highlights writing about the printing press: mass reproduction of text. 

It covers -

The following page considers printed images (eg illustrations and maps). There is a more extensive exploration in our 15 part profile of print, the book and reading.

section marker     print revolution

German humanist Sebastian Brant (1457-1521), author of The Ship of Fools, commented during 1498 that

In our time, thanks to the talent and industry of those from the Rhine, books have emerged in lavish numbers. A book that once would have belonged only to the rich - nay, to a king - can now be seen under a modest roof ... There is nothing nowadays that our children ... fail to know.

Elizabeth Eisenstein's magisterial two volume The Printing Press As An Agent Of Change: Communications & Cultural Transformation in Early-Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1979) and The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800 (London: NLB 1976) by Lucien Febvre & Henri-Jean Martin are essential reading. They offer insights into technologies, markets and consequences.

In comparison Marshall McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press 1962) is of significantly lower value for understanding new media or the wider implications of what one pundit characterised as "dried tree flakes encased in dead cow".

section marker     the symbolic economy

Rise of the Knowledge Worker (Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann 1998) edited by James Cortada, along with The Knowledge Economy and The Economic Impact of Knowledge - both edited by Dale Neef - provide an excellent introduction to the 'economy of symbolic analysts' - people who, like you, who work with facts & figures. Alistair Black's article The Victorian Information Society in volume 17(1) of The Information Society examines formation of 'information society' institutions and professions in late 19th century Britain, also considered in Theories of the New Media: A Historical Perspective (London: Athlone Press 2000) edited by John Thornton Caldwell.

Tendencies & Tensions of the Information Age: The Production & Distribution of Information in the United States
(New Brunswick: Transaction 1997) by Jorge Schement & Terry Curtis is more restricted in scope but provides a valuable introduction to the information-based economy, extending Machlup's pathbreaking Knowledge, Its Creation, Distribution & Economic Significance (Princeton: Princeton Uni Press 1984).

Two sites of particular significance are those for the
New Paradigms & Parallels: The Printing Press & the Internet project under the auspices of RAND, better known as a defence think tank, and the November 2000 issue of Communications Law in Transition.

section marker     taxonomies and catalogues

[under development] Of the estimated 8 to 20 million incunabula believed to have been printed in the 45 years beginning in 1455, approximately 400,000 known volumes survive in complete or nearly complete form. 






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version of December 2005
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