This Changes Everything, Again: The Remediation of Print on the Web

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Introduction The introduction of the printing press changed society permanently. Along with this invention came the emergence of mass production of texts. Suddenly, information could be efficiently replicated, thus facilitating the dissemination process. Widespread alphabetic literacy, as Havelock states, could finally become a reality. Print media, however, are fundamentally restricted by their physical nature. Enter the Internet, arguably modern society’s greatest technological advancement, with its ability to digitally recontextualize the written word. Again, forever changing the nature of communication. This paper will focus on the web’s functional, social, and cultural remediations of print media. It can be argued that the Internet is a modernized version of the printing press. The web created an explosion in production, self-published content, and new forms of machine art. Through contrasting physical and digital print media, it will be shown that the Internet enhances aspects of the printing press in defining itself. Functional Factors At its beginnings, the internet crafted a new but familiar form of manufacturing: the mass production of digital texts. In fact, in 1440 Gutenberg first originated the idea of mass production of texts with his invention of the Printing Press. For the first time, an automated process was able to replicate script. This new technology was not without its shortcomings. First, the printing press used limited materials. Next, as Mumford notes, the advent of print led calligraphers and manuscript copyists out of work. Furthermore, as Graff finds, it created “typographical fixity”—material once printed cannot be changed. Finally, mass production was dependent and limited to large markets (Mumf... ... middle of paper ... ...ames, and Ornstein, Robert. “Communication and Faith in the Middle Ages.” Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Ed. Crowley, D.J., and P. Heyer. Allyn & Bacon/Pearson, 2010. 56-62. Print. Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted.” The New Yorker October 4th 2010. Web. 31 May. 2012. Graff, HarveyJ., “Early Modern Literacies.” Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Ed. Crowley, D.J., and P. Heyer. Allyn & Bacon/Pearson, 2010. 86-96. Print. Havelock, Eric A., “The Greek Legacy.” Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Ed. Crowley, D.J., and P. Heyer. Allyn & Bacon/Pearson, 2010. 38-43. Print. Mumford, Lewis. “The Invention of Printing.” Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Ed. Crowley, D.J., and P. Heyer. Allyn & Bacon/Pearson, 2010. 74-77. Print.

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