eBook Review: Gutenberg the Geek

It’s not hard to think: that Johannes Gutenberg really changed the world. The use of the moveable type printing press suddenly made books more available than ever, opened the doors of literacy to more than a small, select group, and set the stage for various revolutions that took place once data and information began to flow. In Gutenberg the Geek, Jeff Jarvis seeks to understand Gutenberg as a man of his time, but also as a foreshadowing icon of the current age of technology, where innovation, hardship, luck and the ability to pull together disparate ideas into one large concept are shaping the environments in which we work, learn, and live.

“Our accepted wisdom today is that the change we are experiencing is pushing us forward at lightning speed. But I’m coming to wonder whether, instead, it is happening very slowly. That is, we are only at the bare beginning of the change we will undergo and we cannot yet fathom its full shape and extent.”

Jarvis, Jeff (2012-02-27). Gutenberg the Geek (Kindle Single) (Kindle Locations 239-241).  . Kindle Edition.

In this book, Jarvis tracks some elements of Gutenberg’s life as a businessman, and a printer, showing some connections to various tools of social media and the Internet itself. His aim to create echoes from the past, with Gutenberg’s ideas around information flow altering the way the world worked, to today, where things are still very much in flux, and unknown. Living as we do in “the moment,” it’s hard to know for sure what the Internet and technology will end up doing to us as information gatherers and creators. If we look back to Gutenberg, it’s clear that seeds get planted when information is cut loose from the narrow few (publishers, etc.), but what kind of flowers and weeds will bloom won’t be known until historians look back.

And Jarvis concludes his fascinating piece with these words of warning and possibility:

“I believe the internet could prove to be as momentous an invention, as profound a platform. This is why we must protect the net from the control of governments and corporations — especially because they are the objects of the disruption technology enables. Only if it remains as open as the printing press for anyone — no, everyone — to use can the net realize its potential and can we realize ours.”

Jarvis, Jeff (2012-02-27). Gutenberg the Geek (Kindle Single) (Kindle Locations 298-301).  . Kindle Edition.

Peace (in the geek),


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