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Technology: helping the spread of news (part 1)

Posted by: | October 1, 2009 | No Comment |

Advancements in technology over the years have helped in the  spread of news.  From Pi Sheng (see picture below) being the first person to use moveable type in 1041 C.E. in China (some 400 years before Johann Gutenburg introduced the printing press to Europe in 1450 C.E.) to the use of blogging by reporters, atheletes, entertainers, and students today (2000’s), technology has opened the door for people acquiring news and information more quickly and effectively.

foto_picheng

picture of Pi Sheng and his apprentices.  Source: http://www.picheng.com.br/picheng_english.html

Though, Pi Sheng was credited with inventing the moveable type, according to Mitchell Stephens (author of “The History of News“), “the invention is not a big success.  Chinese has too many different characters to make such a system practicable. ”  While, Pi Sheng could not utilize his invention for the Chinese people, Johann Gutenberg was able to utilize his invention, the printing press to help his fellow Europeans (mostly, elites and religious monks) print things faster.  The printing of the “Bible” (see below), in particular, benefited from Gutenberg’s printing press because people had better access to it because more copies were available to them to acquire. 

140px-Family-bible 

Picture of Family Bible.  Source: Wikimedia 

Later, the printing press was used to print pamphlets, letters, almanacs, Latin grammer books, and eventually newspapers in Europe.   In fact, Mitchell Stephens mentions in his own book that Christopher Columbus‘ own letters (see reproduction below) on his discovery  of America in 1492 (technically, a rediscovery, since Vikings originally discovered America in 986 C.E.) found distribution, thanks in large part to the printing press, before Columbus returned a year later from his travels in Barcelona, Spain

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Source: http://www.usm.maine.edu/~maps/columbus/f2930.gif

Like Columbus’ letter, Martin Luther‘s “95 Theses” (1517 C.E.) also found wide distribution because of the printing pressStephens states that “word of these Theses spreads through Europe in a month”.

Newspapers also found popularity through the use of the printing press, though the process of producing them was slow at the time.   That all changed with the introduction of the steam engine in 1814.  The steam engineaccording to Stephens, was “first used to print a newspaper, the “Times of London”.  Before its use, the “Times” prints 250 sheets an hour, with the steam press (see example below), 1,100.”     

Steam printing press, West Sussex Gazette, Arundel, c1890

Source: http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/apps/eLearning/whiteboard.jsp?imageID=1311

Overall, as one can see, technological advancements have helped in the spread of news and information.  In the next blog posting, more advancements in technology will be discussed to help people further understand how technology has helped in acquiring news and information more easily and effectively.

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