The iPad: What is a Gutenberg moment, anyway?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Apr 6 15:24:47 UTC 2010

Dennis, a few questions/comments:

1)  Are *all* copies of the First Folio and of
the Gutenberg bible different from each other?

2)  Even before the steam press, printing runs
had expanded from "hundreds" into
"thousands".  Was there a technological change in
printing presses between Gutenberg and the 18th century?

3)  Typesetting technology changed between
Gutenberg and computerized type setting (the Linotype).


At 4/6/2010 10:52 AM, Dennis Baron wrote:
>There's a new post on the Web of Language:
>The iPad: What is a Gutenberg moment, anyway?
>For months, commentators have been referring to the release of Apple’s
>iPad ­ it finally went on sale on April 3 ­ as a “Gutenberg moment,”
>or insisting, if they don’t like the idea of the iPad, that it has no
>hope of being a Gutenberg moment. In either case they’re comparing the
>new tablet device, which most of them hadn’t even seen, to Johannes
>Gutenberg’s rollout of the first printing press in the 1450s. To be
>fair, these commentators never saw Gutenberg’s press either, or any
>kind of printing press at all.
>A Gutenberg moment is one which changes the way we produce and consume
>text as dramatically as Gutenberg’s machine did. Before Gutenberg
>rigged a wine press so that it could press a sheet of paper against
>inked, movable, cast-metal type, scribes laboriously copied books by
>hand, leaf by leaf, volume by volume, a process that was so slow and
>so expensive that only the filthy rich could afford to own any books.
>Gutenberg’s press enabled the mass production of books, whose lower
>unit cost democratized book ownership: anybody could buy a book, or at
>least borrow one from the library. Another thing about the Gutenberg
>moment: scribes were notorious for introducing errors into the books
>they copied, but the press allowed books to be cloned ad infinitum.
>After Gutenberg, there’s perfect copy, every time.
>If you believe the printing press did all that, then there’s a bridge
>in Brooklyn you might want to buy, or maybe I could interest you in
>some priced-to-sell subprime mortgage instruments?
>... and if you want to read the rest of this post, click on the Web of
>Dennis Baron
>Professor of English and Linguistics
>Department of English
>University of Illinois
>608 S. Wright St.
>Urbana, IL 61801
>office: 217-244-0568
>fax: 217-333-4321
>read the Web of Language:
>The American Dialect Society -

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