Of 240 or so Gutenberg bibles first printed, there are now apparently only 48 in existence. Today I had the pleasure of witnessing one at the New York Library.
What the Gutenberg bible did for humanity – especially in Europe – was to set in motion a series of significant advancements leading to the growth of mass literacy.
Has the internet done the same? I would suggest it has, and to a greater extent. Yes, the new guard has replaced an old guard – the digitalization of the amazons, facebooks and apples have replaced the round seals and printing blocks – and commercialization, consolidation and a celebrity culture are now the new norm, but the internet is also the peoples platform and more free access to knowledge is available online than during early modernity’s vast libraries.
But would the internet have existed without the invention of the movable type? The history of the Internet considers numerous variables that led to its creation, the Cuban crises, Sputnik, increased R&D from US military to name a few. But when you see an original Gutenberg bible you are reminded of its magnitude. Identical prints made almost instantaneously and in volumes that quickly led to the renaissance, enlightenment, industrialization and ultimately, digitalization.
Thank you Johannes Gutenberg.