Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1398 – 1468) is remembered for the invention of moveable type printing and the production of the Gutenberg Bible. Considered to be the key factor in the launch of the Renaissance, the Gutenberg moveable type printer spread books beyond the scribes and the elite and into the hands of the public, spreading knowledge and the ability to learn beyond our own experiences. It also gave mankind a reason to read and a thirst for literacy.
My “Gutenberg Moment” occurred a few months ago when I pondered the demise of newspapers and the proliferation of new media. I wondered if the combination of a truly free press and virtually unlimited and ridiculously inexpensive distribution channels might unleash a renaissance of creativity in writing not seen since the end of the Dark Ages. No longer tethered to the formulaic “he said, she said” monotony of news show repartee, or “fair and balanced” commentary of typical news stories (where opposing views on say, the tragedy of a house fire, are often irrelevant and almost always annoying), creative genius could blossom.
Moving beyond the petty hyper-local or politically motivated reporting – new media writers could tackle issues of national or international significance. A more worldly view of the world. And they could do it with wit and aplomb and personality and style and not be constrained by more than our complex rules of grammar. Truth in media would become a matter of personal pride and an unassailable virtue of the best and brightest. With the coveted byline placed within reach of “every man” regardless of station or nation a true democratization of media is within our reach. The power of capitalism is its only check and in true Darwinistic theory, only the strong will survive.
Johannes would be proud.