For 500 years, societies have been shaped by the authority and permanence of the printed word. What do we have to lose – or gain – when the internet renders print culture obsolete?
Jeff Jarvis thinks we should look to the early print era, when Johannes Gutenberg’s invention caused a moral panic across Europe, for clues to our current predicament. A media journalist and associate professor at the City University of New York, Jarvis recently published The Gutenberg Parenthesis, an inquiry into the spread of print in the 1500s and the bureaucracy, censorship and mass politics that followed.
He talks to Aaron about the connection between the early print era and the ’90s dotcom bubble, whether the book was the first commodity, how journalism fails in its mission to inform society, and what civil war will mean in the age of digital media.
The Gutenberg Parenthesis: The Age of Print and Its Lessons for the Age of the Internet is available from Bloomsbury.