Final Assignment

10 Jun


When publishing changes, so does society. Investigate and compare the impact of two publication technologies, one pre-1900 and one post-1962, on a specific aspect of society (e.g. education, politics, creative industries, science, entertainment, social relationships).

Publishing is the process of producing and disseminating literature or information, so that it is made available to the general public. The ways in which information is published has changed due to technological developments that have occurred. The different forms of publishing that have developed over time have had a huge impact on society, particularly in the area of education. This impact can be observed by comparing two different publication technologies, one that was developed pre-1900 and one post-1962.

One of the major forms of publication that had a huge impact on the world of publishing was the printing press. It’s a machine that transfers lettering or images by contact with various forms of inked surface onto paper or similar material fed into it in various ways. It’s used for printing many copies of text on paper. The printing press was first invented in 1440 by a German man named Johannes Gutenberg. He invented a printing press process that, with refinements and increased mechanization, remained the principal means of printing until the late 20th century. Gutenberg’s method of printing from movable type, including the use of metal moulds and alloys, a special press, and oil-based inks, allowed for the first time the mass production of printed books (The Great Idea Finder 2007).

A printing press

 Picture Source from (Glogster 2010):

This major development allowed for the spread of literacy, also spurring on the development of universities. By the 15th century, even with an assembly line approach to the production of books, supply was no longer able to meet demand. As a result, there was widespread interest in finding an alternative way of producing books. In order for the possibility of mass production of books, there were other areas that needed to be developed first.

A ready supply of suitable material that could be printed on was required. Manuscript books were written on vellum and this material was used for some early printed books, but vellum was expensive and not available in sufficient quantity for the mass production of books. For print technology to become widespread, it was necessary that the practice of making paper and the progress of European paper making industries became established.

As the printing press allowed for mass distribution of information, this impacted on education immensely. It helped scientists and scholars spread their ideas, as was seen during the Renaissance (16th–17th century) and the Scientific Revolution, where scientists were finally able to make their ideas available to a much larger audience. At the time, only high ranking officials and rich people could read, because materials were very scarce. However, after the books were made easily accessible to the general public because of the printing press, more people had the urge to learn to read. This resulted in a more intelligent European society, and also encouraged further Renaissance works of art (The Great Idea Finder 2007).

Prior to the invention of the printing press, individual scribes would hand write the text leading to inconsistent writing and grammar. However, the mechanization of the printing press achieved more regular spacing and hyphenation of the print, consistent spelling, grammar and punctuation (McLuhan, 1962). The printing press gave writing a consistent look and feel.  This consistency of language rules enabled readers to more easily interpret the author’s writing and intentions. The consistency enhanced the overall reading experience (The University of British Colombia 2004).

Over the long term the printing press increased literacy by making print available to the general public.  Prior to the printing press, books were very expensive because it was such a difficult and time consuming task to hand-scribe a book.  Therefore only the privileged were able to afford books and only a small percentage of the population knew how to read and write (The University of British Columbia 2004, cited in McLuhan, 1962, p. 207).  With the invention of the printing press, better quality of books were published and since they were able to be mass produced, the expense was reduced, making books more affordable to the general public.  It is estimated that by 1500 there were fifteen to twenty million copies of 30,000 to 35,000 separate publications (The Great Idea Finder 2007).

The invention of the printing press greatly increased literacy

 Picture Source from (Trevor 2010)

The printing press transformed learning.  It transformed the relationship between teacher and student and the way research was undertaken. Previous relations between masters and disciples were altered. Students now provided with updated editions, especially of mathematical texts, began to surpass not only their own elders but the wisdom of ancients as well (The University of British Columbia 2004, cited in Eisenstein, 1979, p. 689). It also changed the way students researched and wrote.

Many writers credit the printing press as a catalyst for the profound societal and cultural transformations that began to occur in the 16th century. The printing press became a new communication medium and allowed information and opinions to be spread across countries.  According to McLuhan (1962), the printing press was responsible for the Industrial revolution, the rise of nationalism in Europe, and the use of perspectivity in art. Eisenstein regards the printing press as an agent for the development of the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of modern scientific thought. (The University of British Columbia 2004, cited in Jensen, 2001).

As mentioned previously, the technology shift from the manuscript to the printing press increased literacy by reducing the expense of publishing books and making the process less time and labour intensive. Printing press technology altered education by making books available that provided a new visual aid to learn. Additionally the printing press served as a catalyst for many world movements and events by providing an effective way to disseminate political and religious views.

Religious and political views could be shared easily because of the printing press

 Picture Source from (UNP, n.d.)

In less than 50 years after the invention of the printing press, fifteen million books had entered the world, whereas in the past, scholars would have to travel long distances to visit a library to access twenty hand-written volumes (The Great Idea Finder 2007).

Printing and publishing used to mean the same thing, but now with the introduction of digital publishing, their meanings have changed. Previously, the only way information could be disseminated was in the form of print. But now, with the introduction of digital publishing, information can still be published without being printed. For example, anything on the Internet is published, but it’s not printed. This change in definitions also shows how much technology has changed the way we disseminate information. The printing press used to be the only form of publishing. Now, with the invention of the Internet, there are numerous ways to publish and one of them is discussed below.

Twitter, a microblogging and social networking site, was developed in 2006 and is currently impacting on education. It enables its users to send and read messages called tweets. Users can also follow other people to receive tweets from a particular person or business. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the user’s profile page. Twitter is focused on real-time delivery of information.

The more people you follow on Twitter, the more information you receive

 Picture Source from (Tech N’ Marketing, n.d.):

In the world of digital publishing, people are more concerned with how quickly they can distribute information rather than the quality of information. Digital publishing has raised society’s expectations of the immediacy and availability of information. For example, E-books are revolutionizing the way people read books. E-books are becoming very popular because they are quick and easy to access. Twitter is also based on this notion of immediacy of information. Twitter has made it possible to distribute information to a wider audience; a global audience that can be read by anyone from anywhere in the world (excluding those countries that have censored Twitter). Twitter also distributes different mediums of publishing as it can provide links to other websites whereas print is unable to do that. For example, video, audio, text and images are all different ways of providing information.

Twitter is a network as every node (user) within the network is connected to all the other nodes. According to the Actor Network-Theory, if one thing changes in the network, it changes everything else. All the actants involved in this network are constantly changing: the human and non-human. The users, relationships, information, links and maintenance within Twitter change, and any change in one of these actants changes another actant. For example, if a user of Twitter follows someone new, this changes their relationship and what information and links they will receive on their feed. With so many people following others, maintenance needs to be done to keep the network functioning to it’s full potential. Such actor-networks are “potentially transient, existing in a constant making and re-making.” This means that relations need to be repeatedly “performed” or the network will dissolve (Actor-network theory, Wikipedia 2011) . Therefore, for Twitter to develop, grow and function properly, people have to keep using it, which is no problem, because Twitter is constantly growing.

Twitter is a network

 Picture Source from (Odden 2009):

Twitter also archives all of the tweets ever written on the service (social archives) even though access to all these tweets is limited for users. It is important to archive as it keeps a record of the past which teaches us about the future and shows how we’ve grown, developed and changed as people and as a civilization. However, it seems that people are less concerned with archiving because everything is focused on the immediacy of information and what is happening right now. Twitter definitely encourages this “what is happening now” mentality. On the other hand, Twitter is also encouraging people to archive without them knowing as everything they write is archived and people are publishing more than they were before because it is so easy.

As Twitter is a relatively new way to aggregate and distribute information, it’s keeping people more informed than ever before. It allows people to participate in publishing, moving us from passive consumption to participation, it enables expression, allows for multiplicity of voices and viewpoints, keeps us informed, encourages and facilitates creativity, develops our social relationships, allows us to collaborate with people we haven’t met face to face and makes everything really accessible.

People have argued whether social networking sites such as Twitter have a positive or a negative impact on education. A recent survey that was conducted proves that Twitter helps to improve active participation and engagement by students, resulting in a more productive and positive impact on education (Enterakt 2011) .

As the results of the info graphic show (below), the experiment of using Twitter for students helped in more engagement compared to the controlled environment of a traditional learning system. Since Twitter allows for constant on-going  discussions, it is a useful tool when time is so limited for a class session. It allows students to discuss and ask questions that they would’ve asked in class had it not been for the limited class time (Enterakt 2011). Twitter allows for more time to discuss class related material, increasing the learning experience for students. Twitter also promotes writing as a fun activity. It fosters editing skills, develops literacy skills and gives students a chance to record their cognitive thinking and then use it to reflect on their work. Students can also use tweets to send out questions to fellow classmates while taking part in classroom activities.

Infograph taken from (Enterakt 2011):

Original Source is Master Degree Online:

Twitter also allows for the possibility of collaboration between schools and countries. Students can tweet from their phone as they come across real-world examples of what they are studying in class. It also encourages more participation in group work as it can be used as a tool for assessing opinions about the topic to be discussed allowing for better project management.

It’s also a service that is good for metacognition, which is the practice of thinking about and reflecting on your learning. Metagcognition has been shown to benefit comprehension and retention.

Twitter is useful in conferences when not everyone can attend, as thoughts about particular sessions and activities with others at the event can be shared with those who aren’t at the event themselves. Twitter allows information to be organised and enables people to give quick updates and give links to relevant resources. Higher education is using the technology to send information to students in a more timely manner.

Twitter encourages virtual classroom discussion by using @username, which directs the tweet at the intended recipient whilst allowing every student to also see it. It creates a learning experience which increases motivation to want to learn.  Twitter can also be used as a reference service in libraries. People could follow a Twitter account to learn about library events, new books, or get responses to library user questions.

Twitter keeps track of conversation students carry on a particular topic, it’s fun and gives students more insight into what’s going on in courses, it connects people that one would not have met otherwise, it builds an educational community and it gives quieter students a voice so they too can participate.

Teachers also benefit greatly from using Twitter. They can use it for disseminating publications and materials, locating original sources of ideas and give feedback to students to improve their thinking and skills.Twitter generally encourages professional connections, allows for informal research, storytelling, class chatter, allows you to follow a professional, to get feedback on ideas, programs, make appointments, gives event updates, gives live coverage of events, builds trust and builds a community (Grosseck & Holotescu 2008).

Tweeting during class is becoming popular

 Picture Source from (Dybwad 2009):

Microblogging at conferences seems to be an additional way of discussing presented topics and exchanging additional information. It is not limited to the face-to-face audience or the location of the conference. Twitter allows virtually anyone to actively participate in the debates and topics being discussed. Several conference speakers and attendees are using Twitter for various purposes. Communicating and sharing resources seem to be one of the most interesting and relevant ways why people tweet. Other microblogging practices in conferences include following parallel sessions that otherwise delegates would not have access to or would not receive such visibility. Content attached to tweets was reported to be mostly limited to plain text and web links. (Reinhardt et al. 2009).

Twitter seems to have become a relevant part of one’s informal learning. People in areas such as career services, librarians, computer sciences, students, educators and researchers, in general, are starting to use the microblogging approach to enrich their knowledge and simultaneously widen the scope of their personal networks. As Stevens et al. (2007) state, “the value of Twitter is the network” and, therefore, in the learning and connections one can make while contributing to a spontaneous pool of ideas, pointing to numerous links and resources (Reinhardt et al. 2009).

Even though Twitter has undeniably had a huge positive impact on education, it has had some negative effects as well. Twitter can be a distraction to students if they tweet while in class as it takes their focus away from ideas presently being discussed. It’s time-consuming and can be considered rude if the student is tweeting in class while the teacher is speaking. Also, a tweet will only be picked up by the people in your network, therefore the potential response rate is going to be fairly limited. Twitter is also a service that can be seen as addictive and at times serves no educational value. It can be used to intrude on a teacher’s personal life by students and the 140 character limit could lead to bad grammar from students.

Twitter is viewed as a distraction by some

Picture Source from (Follow The Bottle, 2010):

There is also a lack of privacy with Twitter. You can set your account to private, but this limits the many uses and benefits of Twitter, and if it’s set on public, anyone can read your tweets and anyone can follow you. People also argue that it affects our attention span because it’s a distraction, as there is real time information coming through the feed non-stop, also causing information overload. Additionally, there is a tendency for people to only associate with others similar to them, known as homophily, limiting the network to grow further.

There has been concern from teachers that kids have been texting in class and now they are tweeting too. A recent survey showed that those who had Twitter accounts actually had lower grades, but happened to be more socially adapted. Reading a bunch of abbreviated headlines does not necessarily give all information that is required to understand the information in its context. It’s like scanning the newspaper and only reading titles and believing this is enough information to understand what the article is about when it is not (Winslow 2009).

It is evident that the field of education has been impacted by the different ways in which information is published. By comparing two different forms of publishing, the printing press, invented in 1440 and Twitter, invented in 2006, it is clear how far publishing has come and how much it’s changed the way we teach and learn. Society seems determined to spread as much knowledge and information as possible and with the development of digital publishing, it looks like this is the way the world is heading.


Enterakt 2011, “Impact of Twitter on Education [Infographic]”, date accessed, 6th June 2011,

Grosseck & Holotescu 2008, “Can We Use Twitter for Educational Activities?”, Elearning and Software for Education, Bucharest, Romania.

Idea Finder 2007, “Fascinating facts about the Invention of the Printing Press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440”, date accessed, 5th June 2011,

Reinhardt, W., Ebner, M., Beham, G., Costa, C., 2009, “How People are Using Twitter During Conferences”, Creativity and Innovation Competencies on the Web, Hornung-Prahauser, V., Luckmann, M., (Ed.) Proceeding of 5. EduMedia conference, p. 145-156, Salzburg

University of British Columbia 2004, “The Impact of the Printing Press”, date accessed, 5th June 2011,

Wikipedia 2011, “Actor-Network Theory”, date accessed 6th June 2011,

Winslow, L., 2009, “Twitter’s Impact on Business, Education, Other Social Networks, and Driving Skills With No Hands”, Ezine Articles, date accessed 9th June 2011,,-Education,-Other-Social-Networks,-and-Driving-Skills-With-No-Hands&id=2363626


Dybwad, B., 2009, “University Makes Twitter a Required Class for Journalism Students”,, date accessed 9th June 2011,

Enterakt 2011, “Impact of Twitter on Education [Infographic]”, date accessed 9th June 2011,

Follow The Bottle, 2010, “Is Twitter Just a Big Distraction?”, date accessed 9th June 2011,

Glogster 2011, “Gutenberg’s Printing Press”, date accessed 9th June 2011,

Odden, L., 2009, “12 Twitter Stream Aggregators To Make You Smarter”, Top Rank, date accessed 9th June 2011,

Tech N’ Marketing, n.d., Mobile Tech, Social Media and Online News, date accessed 9th June 2011,

Tevor, I., 2010, “The Anxiety of Influence”,, date accessed 9th June 2011,

UNP, n.d., date accessed 9th June 2011,

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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


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