The Path From the Printing Press


“As a duplicating machine, the printing press not only made texts cheaper and more accessible; its real power was to make them stable. ‘Scribal culture,’ Eisenstein wrote, was ‘constantly enfeebled by erosion, corruption, and loss.’ Print was trustworthy, reliable, and permanent.” (The Information, James Gleick page 400)


The printing press was one of the most influential and important innovations of all of human history. Though, there are arguments to where and when it first arrived, the impact it had on human advancement was incredible. Because of its efficiency it allowed many people, poor and rich, to learn, stay up to date, and access information. The fact that it allowed people to access information is the most important breakthrough that this invention caused. It caused our memories and history to rapidly move towards a future based on the truth of fact. In my opinion, this invention sparked the beginning of the information era.

Though, the printing press’ mass production of information lead to scientific and cultural enlightenments, there are some downsides to the fact that so much is open for the world to see. Years down the road from the printing press, people seem to run into too much information. At every turn, there is another spam email or another link to a bizarre activist site. People are constantly under fire from messages all around them and can barely process the most important ones. It is even hard to determine which messages are lies and which are trustworthy.

Due to the increase in available information in the years since the invention of the printing press, people can spend lifetimes only accumulating it. Some people think that the key to knowledge is only by gaining more information, but in actuality, knowledge is gained through practice, experimentation, and experience. Knowledge is the ability take information, understand it, and create something with it. The printing press started us on this road with available information, but it is our job to use it as knowledge and with enough experience, wisdom.




2 thoughts on “The Path From the Printing Press”

  1. The invention of the printing press is the equivalent to the internet for us today: they were both new ways to spread information rapidly and widespread. I like how you mentioned that information is not knowledge. I have met so many people who are walking encyclopedias yet they don’t apply the information they withhold. Applying the information you have learned is knowledge and further use of that knowledge leads to having wisdom.

  2. I do agree that information is not wisdom, but I also believe that without information someone cannot have wisdom. The connections a person makes between different bits of information has to do with whether or not they have wisdom. A simple example is that, “rain makes you wet,” and “an umbrella covers my head,” but the connection to use an umbrella in the rain is having wisdom.

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