The printing press vs the world wide web

2024-06-28 10:16:00 +07:00 by Mark Smith

I've read a lot recently comparing the introduction of the printing press and the internet / world wide web. The main gist of it is that following the introduction of the printing press there was all sorts of craziness that ensued in societies across the world. But on the other hand it still led to the enlightenment period which is universally seen as a good thing for humanity.

Looking at it from a purely numbers perspective, the printing press introduced millions of new minds to the general social discourse. That creates problems because dynamics that had been in place for hundreds of years suddenly started to shift. With the internet / world wide web, there's no reason to think sonethibg similar isn't currently occuring. The difference is that instead of millions of new minds, we have introduced billions of new minds to the general social discourse. What's more we've done it much faster, for all intents and purposes in comparison to the printing press, it's happenned almost instantaneously.

So we should expect there to be a very turbulent period, where dynamics recallibrate. It's complicated because this time it really is global in nature, but we have very different cultures and ideologies across all these places. I expect there are big fault lines across it all for things like economic status and gender. I think it's going to be rather rough because the dynamics that have been in place for so long are rooted all the way down to the language, customs and ritual layer of our societies. Things that we grew up with and didn't question are being questioned.

I think that's why we are seing such polarisation in politics across the globe. It's an important moment. Those in power will be trying to keep that power while the less powerful are speaking out about their difficult lives. It's worth remembering that the printing press resulted in a better world, and the same will be true for the internet / world wide web, we need to collectively find ways to channel the change, without blocking or supression, even if it's uncomfortable.

We should encourage kindness, humility, understanding, a willingness to try and see things through the eyes of others, without predjudice, the courage to speak out when things aren't right, and equally the courage to listen to views that we might not be used to hearing. Infiniti no will only ever be met with infiniti no, so we have to find better ways of sailing through these waters.

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