The Master Printer as an Agent of change


Either I read somewhere or else I had in a peronal email from Professor Eisenstein that she wanted to call her big book ("The Printing Press as an Agent of Change"): "The Master Printer as an Agent of Change", but the publisher did not like that idea. I cannot find the source at the moment. But even if it is a false memory, it's true to her spirit.


It was not the printing press as a technology in itself that changed the world (like the earth impact of a giant asteroid would do...) but rather certain men who changed the world using the technology, in a positive feedback loop. Under other conditions maybe the printing press might have remained as a tool for the Roman Catholic Church's to mass produce indulgences, like other machines facilitated The Holy OFfice of the Inquisition torturing heretics.

Intermezzo: Imagine how it might have been the same or different had the Xerox machine, not the printing press, been introduced in Europe in the 15th century. In my job as clerical Assistant to the Registrar in 1968-69 at The Baltimore Museum of Art, back before computerization of the "card files" indexing the museum's collections, I had to copy all the cards due to the museum wanting to be able to search on a new sort key. Taped to the Xerox machine was a copy of a cartoon of a monk wheeling a copier into his scriptorium, with the caption: "What hath God wrought?" Meanwhile, the museum's copier was not fusing the toner to the paper. I told my superiors about this, and they told me to keep copying. So the cards I produced you could wipe the information off them with your finger.

+2024.01.15 v020
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