There have been several key events that have dramatically altered the way in which we communicate, all of which have helped to further our understanding of the world and those around us.
Most recently, the Internet has revolutionised the way we conect, be it on IM, via e-mail or on a social networking site. Anyone with an Internet connection has acess to hundreds of millions of webpages, all of which are stuffed full with varying amounts of useful or useless information. News, images, videos and music are there for all to consume in whatever way suits best.
The Television brought moving pictures into our homes, never before had the news of the day ben brought to our living rooms by men, in uits, on a screen. And similarly, the wireless gave us news from the comfort of the armchair whe before the newspaper was the point of contact with events from around the world.
The railways and mass production, the two great feats of the industrial age, enabled volumes of newspapers to be distributed all over the country within hours of the being printed, meaning that for the first time, news gathering and delivery were seamless and almost instantaneous.
All of this would not have been possible without the pioneers who created these wonderful inventions which we now take for granted. However, even with all this, one man is responsible for allowing us to digest news; Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press.
Gutenberg’s invention gave rise to the possibility of printing, en masse, reams of words that had never before been put to paper. The first book to get the printed treatment was, of course, the Bible, which found its way into hardback in 1455. 180 were produced and it kick started the way in which we passed on information from source to reader.
It enabled the printing of pamphlets, newsletters and of course, newspapers, to become commonplace, upto the point where we now see media empires printing millions of newspapers in a few hours, ready to be sold across the country.
So where, is the next Johannes Gutenberg?
What is more interesting is to consider where the next big technological communication breakthrough will occur.
The United States, with its long list of entrepreneurs and Internet whizzkids is an obvious candidate. The country that created CNN and Facebook is the world’s media hub.
The United Kingdom, rich in history is still to get fully to grips with the whole social media thing. Those in the media industry are, of course, on top of new developemtns, but the vast majority of people wouldn’t know what Twitter is if you hit them in the shins with a perturbed looking tawny owl.
How about Scandinavia? The likes of Twingly.com from Sweden and of course Finland’s Nokia, are always there or thereabouts in the innovation and implementation department. Nokia did after all create SMS.
I propose that the next revolutionary step will come from somewhere else, not Japan, or even China. I’d suggest that in the current economic climate, R&D is being put on hold as companies prepare to brace themselves for the ineviteable shortfall in revenue they’ll receive when the West stops buying their technological goods.
How about Dubai, or India? These emerging economic superpowers will soon be knocking on the door of the traditional media centres and creating new phone apps and websites and widgets. The taste for technology is growing in these parts of the world, just as it did in the UK in the seventies, and the great innovators will soon be plying their trade from Mumbai, before moving to San Fransisco, naturally.
Don’t expect the next big step to be obvious, or even widely reported, but when it comes, it may well arrive by courier from somewhere you’ve not even heard of yet.
Incidentally, I’ve come across a recently setup Johannes Gutenberg blog which looks at news, information and pictures of Johannes, check it out at johannesgutenbergfans.com