Throughout history technological advancements have created and propagated great societies- from ancient Egyptian sculptors, to Chinese block printers, from 15th century print, to the modern day digital realm. Technological advances continually impact society to such an extent, that they fundamentally change (and continue to change) the way in which societies function.
Over the course of human history modes of publishing have continually evolved. Each technological addition increases the reach and depth of information received by those in communities. Alongside scope and depth, advancements in modes of publishing have caused a shift in the balance of power between publisher, author and consumer/reader – not only changing the faciality of publishing, but its structure as a whole.
A brief historical overview of the evolution of modes of publishing is as follows:
Egypt circa. 3000 B.C.E Ancient means of publishing on a large scale was limited to sculptors carving stories of pharos, gods and goddess into large facades on buildings – a long lasting publication that has transgressed into today’s society millenniums later. Note that, all that was carved was authorised by those in positions of power – pharos and their advisors.
Image received from: http://www.ancientsculpturegallery.com/sitebuilder/images/2602-367x600.jpg
Arabia circa. 600 B.C.E The first real improvement in the means of publishing, with the hand-written recording of Jewish scriptures via ink on papyrus. Though mass reach wasn’t its prominent attribute, hand-written means of portable publication was a vast leap in comparison to large stone carvings.
Image received from: http://www.touregypt.net/images/touregypt/papyrus4.jpg
China circa. 200 B.C.E Geographically local, though hundreds of years apart, the implementation of ink block printing on small patches of silk was another leap in publishing. The transferring of spoken word to physical recording in a portable means was used in a much broader sense. Alongside historical documentation, the ink/silk printing was also used for poetry, songs, and stories, alongside the recording of spiritual and meditational guides.
Image received from: http://www.computersmiths.com/chineseinvention/images/diamond_sutra_closeup2.jpg
Europe circa. 1400 C.E For centuries the block printing method ruled supreme. It was a laborious and time consuming means of mass production, though was used across many communities in the world. The invention of Gutenberg’s printing press fundamentally revolutionised the way in which information was circulated within and across communities. Alongside this, the depth and speed in which such information could be processed was dramatically increased.
Image received from: http://michaelmcdougall.edublogs.org/files/2010/10/printing-press-uf4uwk.jpg
Over the next 600 years, printing evolved at an incredible scale, with circulation of printed texts being available to millions of people, as opposed to just small communities as with previous periods. A hierarchy of publishers and authors was established, and still exist today.
The reformed landscape of publishing:
Since the implementation of the Internet, the formal hierarchy of publisher, author and consumer/reader is shifting. No longer are institutions of publishing houses needed for mass circulation of information, entertainment etc. Social media platforms have crippled the hierarchical establishment of publishing.
There is a blurring between the distinction of professional and amateur writers due to the increasing prominence of digital publication. No longer is there an authorial figure, or editor, censoring and deciding what sort of information is released to a public. A new consumer of published content is emerging, one that both engages in, and receives information from media platforms: the prosumer.
There are no limits to the prosumer’s choice of content, or stance taken. The likes of Facebook, twitter, YouTube, and other various self-expression online domains have resulted in a torrent of voices, challenging a faltering hierarchy of traditional print publication.
It should be noted that all throughout history, there has been a hierarchy of those in positions of power deciding what and where something should be published. This method is becoming increasingly redundant in the evolving environment of the digital realm.
The most important factor of what makes the prosumer so powerful a contender in the realm of publishing, is the security of anonymity. Any means of information can propagate change, and those who wish to remain anonymous can do so, whilst speaking to masses.
Image received from: http://rinf.com/alt-news/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/anonymous.jpg
The faciality of publishing no longer lies with large corporations, but rather, conscientious citizens of a community, who actively seek to have their voices heard. The faciality of prosumers is shifting the foundation of the traditional mode of publishing. Physical printing is becoming a thing of the past. The rise of the eReader, and digitisation of information has moved the world of publishing into a completely new environment, one where all in a community have the right to be both a consumer and circulator of information.
‘til next time.