When Johannes Gutenberg developed his movable type printing press in the early 1400’s it revolutionized the publishing industry in many of the same ways that the recent development of blogging is.
Prior to Gutenberg publishing was accomplished using two primary means. The most common way was for scribes to hand copy works. For a book the size of a Bible the process took a year or more to publish one copy. Alternately printing could be done with hand carved wood blocks which was also an incredibly labor intensive process.
When the movable type printing press came on the scene suddenly books that took a year or more to duplicate could be copied in a matter of days. It greatly reduced the cost of printing and allowed authors and publishers to reach a much wider audience. This advance in printing technology put mass communication into the hands of people who never had access to it previously.
Here are just a few of the ways that the movable type printing press was revolutionary. It was
- Wider Distribution
- Mass Communication
The internet is transforming how information is being transmitted. However publishing that information to the web still required Today’s blogging is an order of magnitude leap in publishing technology on the same level as Gutenberg’s press was over the scribes of his day.
Let’s take a closer look.
Gutenberg’s press sped up the printing process dramatically. Instead of taking upwards of a year for each copy of a book to be published it was only a matter of days. It was a huge leap forward in publishing speed.
Until blogging software became prevalent a few years ago in order for a person of modest technical abilities to publish to the web they had to utilize the skills of an intermediary technician that often was called a webmaster. The webmaster would convert the site owner’s content to an appropriate format and do whatever programming was required to get the content published.
In organizations that were large enough to have full time web staff on hand the process could happen fairly quickly. However the typical small business or individual had to hire a specialized web development firm to manage their web content. These firms usually managed many web sites and as a result it could often take weeks or even months for to publish even basic web site content changes or additions.
Now with blogging software, someone with just modest technical skills can type in their content, add a photos and links hit the publish button and their web site is updated. Instantly.
Waiting for the specialist web developer to get around to updating your site is now a thing of the past.
By speeding up the publishing process from a year or more to just a matter of days the movable type press reduced the cost of books and other published material substantially. Lower labor costs meant lower price.
The lower cost allowed more access to the publishing industry, both on the production end and on the consumer end. As more books were published literacy increased because reading material was more accessible to people with lower incomes.
Once again we have a technologically wonderful publishing price reduction. There are several places where individuals can start blogging for free such as Blogger or WordPress.com. While these platforms may not be ideal for business use they are certainly low cost. You can’t get much lower cost than free.
The wonderful thing is that there are many blogging platforms that can be integrated with an existing web site such as MovableType, ExpressEngine, Drupal, Joomla, and my own platform of choice WordPress.org to name just a few.
All of these platforms have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are better for blogging than others.
But the competition in the blogging software arena is good for everyone as it stimulates innovation and keeps a downward pressure on pricing across the board.
Gutenberg’s movable type press meant that written material could be distributed over a much broader geographical area. Since there was no longer a reliance on laborious hand copying ideas could spread much further and be adopted much more quickly than before.
Instead of a culture where people might only see one book in their entire lives there were entire stores and libraries filled with books. The spread of ideas via the written word was one of the biggest catalysts for the entire Renaissance period in Europe.
Now with blogging ideas can literally cover the globe within an instant of clicking on the publish button. Because of the nature of internet publishing those ideas can be accessed from just about any web connection anywhere on the planet.
But it gets better.
Thanks to the RSS syndication features built into most blogging platforms those ideas can be captured and rebroadcast over an even wider network. Automatically.
It would be like the book showing up in your office the moment your favorite author published it. You don’t even have to go to the store to pre-order a particular title. Once you subscribe you receive every new publication just as soon as it’s available without any additional effort required on your part.
And new websites are cropping up that compile and organize all these feeds in all kinds of ways in an effort to select the best information available for specific audiences.
The movable type press arguably created the very first form of mass communication. For the first time information could be packaged and distributed to the masses.
Now, thanks to blogging technology, information can finally be distributed by the masses.
All that information being published by the masses now has the ability to reach further and touch more people more quickly than any book printed on paper ever could. There has never been a time in history when it has been so simple and inexpensive for the average person to publish and distribute thoughts and ideas.
And that is why blogging is as revolutionary as the Gutenberg press.