Revolution? What Revolution?

14 Aug
Gutenberg with his Printing Press

Gutenberg with his Printing Press

The Printing Press: The machine that hailed in the new age of intellectualism. The Press allowed the sharing of more ideas on a greater scale and gave ownership to those who came up with these ideas, thoughts and works. It is interesting to read about how much the world changed, especially in Europe where the proletariat gained literacy for the first time as a class and started to show signs of threat to aristocracies and monarchies all over the continent.

Industrial revolution, Intellectual revolution and Class revolution followed. Yet, what was happening in Europe, had taken place in the Far East centuries earlier. The first examples of movable type came from Korea and China very early on in the first Century.

What took place in Europe, particularly in England, France, Germany and Italy, was only a natural flow from what would have taken place with the introduction of such a concept like movable type. You see, the best way that a monarchy or an aristocratic class could keep the serfs or peasants in their place was with the suppression of their intellectual potential. With no way to share their ideas of revolution or express their desire to leave their class on a mass scale – i.e. learn how to read and write, then they would certainly fail to organise, consolidate power and thus revolt.

I won’t turn this into a history lesson because we all know where this went – Russia, France, England – they all had their fair share of revolution and war (some more so than others).

The middle of the 20th Century saw the invention of something else that not until later would be seen as the equivalent of the Printing Press in terms of how much it changed global society and impacted on our lives. This was the Internet.

Now I for one am quite pedantic when it comes to the spelling of the word ‘Internet’.

Many people do not know this but the Internet is spelt with a capital ‘I’.

Why?

This is because it is a place. A location if you will.

It is not a tool… it is the collection of ideas, thoughts, works, media, opinions, all in one place.

The revolution that the Internet hailed was that of Communications. For many years the media and mass communications had been monopolised by corporations – the mass media has experienced a swing in the power that they hold over… well, the masses. Even Rupert Murdoch has brought attention to the shift that social media has created.

Yet, as I have stated before and always will, the mass media still holds the real power because they have the resources, finance and strategic plan that individuals and the independent media simply do not. The Truth, it would seem, is still written by the commercial media.

Yet, the Internet has made the world a much smaller place. It has created an era of communications and ideas sharing that has never been seen before or even thought of before it appeared. What shape, size or kind of place will the world be in 10 years? Could we have envisioned it would have been like this 10 years ago?

In 1999 I was finishing high school. One of my favourite classes, Digital Media, had a syllabus that ran much like any other computing class at the time: Let’s do whatever the IT section of The West or The Wall Street Journal is talking about and buy a similar program, teach them that, and let’s also get the students to read similar articles and build a journal (a written, paper journal mind you).

I actually enjoyed the class because at the time it allowed me to be as creative as I wanted while learning some pretty cool programming. (much of which I’ve forgotten but not that it matters today)

Yet, it was limited. The syllabus, I believed then and I believe now, was based only on what was happening in the world at the time in the way of communications and what had happened in the past. There was little room for innovation or the prediction of where the industry was headed and what jobs would be available to us.

Today, I repeatedly tell my students that they must be prepared to apply for jobs that don’t yet exist right now. They must be prepared to continue learning, learning and learning. Adaptation, innovation and a deep passion for how you can change the world are needed for today’s revolution.

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