MIT 1700 Lecture 3: Information Revolutions from Print to Web

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Western University
Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 2200F/G
Kane Faucher

MIT 1700 Lecture 3 January 18, 2011 Information Revolutions: From Print to Web Information Revolutions - Printing Press (1450) - Scientific (1500) - Religious (1500) - Industrial (1750) - Darwin (1860’s) - Freud (1920’s) - Information (First Wave: 1940’s) Foundation of all Knowledge - In 1405, all knowledge came from the Bible and Aristotle (died 1700 years before) - Knowledge economy was controlled and operated by 10% of European pop. that was literate. - Info. was hoarded and safe guarded by the Church. - People still thought world was flat. - Only the wealthy/church could afford to purchase books. Before 1450 a book was an investment that would cost a lot (more than a BMW today). - An avg. book would take 8 cows to make (cow skin used as paper…) Scribal Labour - Someone had to be paid to write/copy the book (monks). Bad working conditions. - No such thing as book publishing. - Monks would write notes in the margins sometimes; this is the closest they got to writing their own book. - Marginalia: Something that is of lesser importance; a side topic (notes in margins) Pictorial Information - The Catholic Church used evocative imagery to carry out information in a medium that could be understood by the illiterate. - Information and knowledge was privileged. The Church has a monopoly on information: they had literacy and cash. - Therefore, the Church was able to control the message. - The transmission of information was slow on account of having to rely on hand copied books. - Probability for error was much higher. - The Bible was the most published book in the Middle Ages. - Many peasants didn’t understand Latin. Later, the Bible was translated into language that people could understand. - Printers became publishers (deciding what information they should print that day) Gutenberg (Movable Type and Printing Press) - Developed alloy for making revolutionary movable type which facilitated the invention of the printing press. - Produced the first book not copied by hand in 1450, thus beginning the Printing Press Revolution. - Implications of the Printing Press: - Information can be transmitted faster - Ideas can be reproduced easily - More people could gain access to info - More discussion of ideas, and increased literacy - More potential criticism of the ruling elite due to discussion of ideas - Authors became important (before authorship was unimportant) - Authors can express their own ideas; not just copy old info, and become popular - Spelling/alphabet could be standardized and not just guess-work MIT 1700 Lecture 3 January 18, 2011 - Costs came down because of higher production made easier; more people can afford books; compelled more of them to become literate. * The Church no longer had as much control over what could be published. The Scientific Revolution - If you were a Medieval Thinker, all your ideas would’ve come from Aristotle/Bible. Considered ‘indisputable sources’ - 1543 Copernicus says Sun is the center of our Universe, not Earth (like Aristotle said). - Observation/experimentation is the only way to gain factual knowledge. Back then, disputing Aristotle was considered heresy. Galileo Galilei (invented telescope) - Paid for ideas with life. - Philotheoparoptessism: people got burned to death if they didn’t agree with Church. - Math became the common alphabet of Science. - How do we obtain knowledge of world? Faith or Reason? Inductive Method - Based on observation/experiment - From specific to general - Can be repeated through testing - Revises old assumptions - Privileges the senses - Anything Aristotle said was taken as truth. - Can be disputed in Inductive Method. - Making an absolute claim about the universe is to say that we know everything about the Universe and have been everywhere. If there is no surprise there is no information. - This method allows us to interpret environmental information differently. Sense Extenders - Microscope and telescopes gave us a way to see into the unseen world. The Reformation - Martin Luther - The WikiLeaks of his time. 1517 he published series of complaints/criticisms “95 Theses” that he nailed to the door of Catholic Church. - Before Luther, no one had criticized Church and hoped to live. - His publication of 95 Theses circulated fast because of printing press. Many people were in support of him. - Led to vicious wars. - He wanted to democratize the Bible (by translating it into different languages: German) - Now people can make decisions for themselves and maybe interpret the Bible differently than it already has been. Humanism - Humanism maintained that Reason needs to work unfettered by matters of faith. Should be able to carve it’s own path. Freedom of thought. - Rejection of Aristotle and Clericalism - We are endowed with a mind that
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