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Media, Information and Technoculture 2200F/G Lecture Notes - Information Revolution, Movable Type, Marginalia

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2200F/G
Kane Faucher

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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
-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
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