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Coma 6300 01 Think Piece 1 1 - Printing Revolution

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COMA 6300 01 Think Piece 1 1

Significant advances in communication technology over the past several decades have impacted society in many ways that are only beginning to become apparent. Modern communication tools such as the cell phones, computers, internet, and social networking sites have created what some have coined a "global village." Over the past two decades, after the introduction of internet in Nepal (my home country), the Nepalese society has changed in such a rapid manner one can hardly imagine. With the ever changing communication technology, society has evolved into a small global village.

From oral culture of the medieval times to the print culture of the mid-fifteenth century to the computer culture of today, society has experienced a lot of societal, economical, educational and political changes. Print culture encompasses all forms of printed text and other printed forms of visual communication. Elizabeth Eisenstein, a prominent scholar in the field contrasted print culture, which appeared in Europe in the centuries after the advent of the Western printing-press to scribal culture. In contrary, Walter Ong in Print, Space, and Closure, has contrasted written culture to oral culture (Crowley & Heyer , p. 144-123, 2nd Ed).

Prior to the printing revolution, oral culture was all that existed. Oral culture gradually developed into scribal culture. Furthermore, the latter due to its inaccuracy and tediousness developed into print culture. Ong suggests scribal culture is defined by an alphabet. McKenzie says that the key to scribal culture is non-verbal communication, which can be accomplished in more ways than using an alphabet. These two views give rise to the importance of print culture. In scribal culture, procuring documents was a difficult task, and documentation would then be limited to the rich only. Ideas are difficult to spread amongst large groups of people over large distances of land, not allowing for effective dissemination of knowledge.

The invention of printing lies with the use of paper which started in China. The use of paper was introduced to the west from china in the 19th century. Laufer holds that Chinese wall papers were

COMA 6300 01 Think Piece 1 2

first introduced into Europe by Dutch travelers at the end of the 17th century. Germans and French were probably the first, in the 17th century, to produce wallpapers from patterns brought from China by the missionaries. While in China the use of silk as material for writing quickly gave way to paper, silk remained the usual material for painting for several centuries and has never been entirely displaced.

The downfall of T'ang dynasty led to the persecution of foreign faiths, including Buddhism. The persecution further culminated the famous edict of 845, by which 4,600 Buddhist temples were destroyed and 260,500 Buddhist monks and nuns forced to return to lay life. this destroyed all the great works of art of the T'ang period have perished and no Chinese printing earlier than the Diamond Sutra of868 has survived.

Its fascinating to learn how the development of printing had such a huge impact on human societies and knowledge. "Print culture" refers to the cultural products of the printing transformation. In chapter 11, Aspects of the Printing Revolution,

according to Steinberg: The history of printing is an integral part of the general history of civilization (Crowley & Heyer, Para 3. p. 106, 2nd Ed).

Although the statement is not very clear, it does seem to point to indirect consequences the printing revolution had on the society. Print culture can be referred to the conglomeration of effects on human society that is created by making printed forms of communication. Print culture encompasses many stages as it has evolved in response to technological advances.

The printing revolution brought about long lasting and deep changes in western social and

cultural landscape. Printing revolution ushered in the era of modern Europe by making both ancient and medieval texts available to a broader audience which produced a fertile ground for new ideas and new theories. The impact of printing on every field of human enterprise-political, economic,

philosophical, and so forth. Authors such as Steinberg seem to point out the indirect consequences

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