In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg also ignited a revolution. He did it by inventing a printing press—later called a movable type press. (So named as a result of the technology that allowed wood or metal letters to be moved on the printing plates.)
The main purpose of that technology was to mass reproduce Bibles, which up until that point were only printed in Latin. Since the majority of the public could only read their native language, while others could not read at all, the elite had to ―reveal‖ the Scriptures to the public.
In just over half a century, the Revolution fueled by this one technology reached a flashpoint. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. These documents dispelled the power and efficacy of indulgences and initiated a reformation of the power structure within the Catholic Church. With indulgences, bishops were playing God by selling forgiveness of sins.
The Revolution may have begun with Bibles, but very quickly, books of all kinds began to be translated, duplicated, and spread around the world at a rapid rate. This put information into the hands of common people instead of it being reserved for the elite.
Today, similar to Gutenberg‘s printing press, New Media is wrestling power and control of information from the elite once again.
New Media is turning mass media on its head. New Media is personal and participatory. It‘s about conversations rather than lectures.
Information isn‘t being handed down from on high as if it‘s the Holy Scriptures anymore.
During the time of Gutenberg and Martin Luther you could say that the printers, publishers and writers were intellectual capitalists. They were using technology to transform the culture and were making a profit from that service.
Back then, the elites were the popes, kings, and lords who held the information and disseminated it to the masses as they saw fit.
Today, the intellectual capitalists are bloggers, talk radio hosts, podcasters, and now… Tweeters! Intellectual capitalists are the innovative business people savvy enough to recognize the transformation empowered by New Media, who then adapt and flow with the changes rather than fighting them.
Now, the elites range from the mass media to large corporations and the government. They are the monarchs of the modern day who are fighting tooth and nail to retain their base of power—the control and dissemination of information.
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