Choose one of the many ramifications resulting from the invention of the moveable type press. Discuss the change and its impact upon the world.” (300 words)
From rIesling to reading
Prior to the development of Gutenberg’s printing press, text was generally handwritten (copied) in Europe or block printed in parts of Asia, specifically China. Despite early success with printing, the multitude of Chinese characters provided a road block to further success. Gutenberg’s mechanical mind and practical skills, combined with the simpler Latin alphabet, was able to transform the printing process. As a devout man, Gutenberg, could not have had a more ironic inspiration in his development of the movable type printing press – the wine press of his home in one of Germany’s most notable wine regions.
Apart from the obvious increased output, one of the most important ramifications of this invention was the standardization of the replicated text. Books, which were now more affordable to produce and therefore consume, provided ideas and information which could now literally be carried from one town to another by a greater number of people. These standardized texts impacted the very linguistic nature of the written word. Long term effects included formalizing the rules of grammar and spelling, as well as the development of modern English.
Books on secular topics such as science, philosophy, business and law, as well as religious texts, began a slow filtering down through the wealthier classes to more traditionally illiterate and lower, poorer classes. The publication of the Bible, which had the support of the Church, had the inadvertent follow on effect of creating a society which no longer was as dependent upon the Church. Church elders, and to an extent non-church elders, were no longer seen as the keepers of wisdom. Fundamentally, it empowered the individual to be an agent of change in their own lives.