ARTS2090 Essay in-lieu of Examination 40%

Question Four:

When publishing changes, so does society. Investigate and compare the impact of two publication technologies, one pre-1900 and one post-2000, on a specific aspect of society (e.g. education, politics, creative industries, science, entertainment, social relationships). 

Publishing inherently effects the way in which a society is experienced and documented. The progression in publishing also demonstrates the changing ways in which individuals understand and gain knowledge of the world (Brannon, 2007). This is why one of the greatest developments of publishing has been within education, which has been consequently redefined by publishing practices and assemblages (Shaviro, 2007). The education system prior to the 1900s vastly contrasts post 2000s education, through the advances in such technologies, from the printing press to the iPad. These advancements altered the way in which society was explored, which also indirectly influenced the way in which publishing was utilised within it’s setting, reflecting the necessity of publishing practices in the development of a society (Brannon, 2007).

Hence, in understanding the impact in which both publishing technologies have made on their society, it is essential to explore the context in which they were introduced.  The 15th Century is fundamentally known as a period of transformation, in which the transition between Middle Ages, the Early Renaissance and the Early modern period dictated profound developments in thinking (Arthur, 2004). Furthermore, it was the time in which the printing press was first utilised in Europe by Johann Gutenberg (Kapr, 1996). Previously, works would be written onto a manuscript, which would be subsequently copied by hand. Due to this tedious and troublesome method, many books had grammatical and spelling errors, consequently effecting education (Kapr, 1996). Also, these books were only available to scholars, monks and those who could afford their price. Thus the printing press resolved such issues through it’s economical and efficient method (Kapr, 1996). This process no longer utilised handwritten replication of a manuscript, but rather a manuscript which would be moulded by page and subsequently pressed with ink onto paper into many copies (Arthur, 2004). In contrast to the previous method, the printing press enabled greater and faster distribution, contributing to the newfound, wide marketplace of knowledge.

In it’s initial stages the benefits of the printing press, which utilised faster distribution impacting a larger audience, became an attractive method of spreading religious propaganda (Farzaneh, 2009). Nevertheless, the benefits of the printing press became known to a greater plethora of publishers, those of whom wished to publish literature, manuals and paraphernalia. Thus the proliferation of such publications enabled for a greater educated audience who were receptive to entertainment, education and new beliefs (Farzaneh, 2009). In consequence to such liberation, the Catholic Church saw the freedom of publishing as a threat to moralistic writings. Therefore censorship was formally adopted by the Church within schooling and the wider community, deeming any material which challenged the beliefs of the Church, to be prohibited (Farzaneh, 2009). Although such censorship became a challenge to the liberalism of publishing, these advancements formed an opportunity for the public to seek diversified opinions and knowledge.

Further, this form of publication revolutionised the school system, without any form of prejudice of class or wealth. Prior to the printing press, information was passed orally from scholar or tutor to pupil, which meant the pupil would document such teachings through dictation (Eisenstein, 1983). This form of education enabled for biased, subjective teaching which could not be learnt without being in the presence of a tutor. Alas, the printing press created a textbook in which could not be manipulated by the particular tutor’s opinions or beliefs. It also allowed for a greater student population, with the ability for learned skills to be learnt at home, away from a school setting (Eisenstein, 1983). Thus such flexibility and diversified knowledge, created a greater education environment enhancing interaction and exploration of the 1400s.

Unfortunately, the act of publishing during this period also enabled various forms of plagiarism which effected the level of reliability in education. Through previous methods of publishing, plagiarism was an unknown term as all written work was common knowledge (Hall, 2008). However, the proliferation of publishers as a result of the printing press, granted ill-sourced information and textual misinterpretation (Olsen, 2011).  Thus plagiarism was a result of a lack of understanding of authorship, which is a rather modern term (Hall, 2008). The author was not highly rewarded for their publication and thus individuals did not seek acknowledgement for their efforts (Olsen, 2011). The result of such plagiarism was a lack of understanding for content, which was redistributed by other authors. This formed a large misinterpretation of information which inadvertently impacted education (Hall, 2008). Such information could not be accepted as purely factual, but would have to be deciphered by students as to it’s validity (Olsen, 2011). These debates over plagiarism are prevalent within a contemporary setting, with modern publishing practices such as the iPad proliferating plagiarism.

Since the invention of the internet and other technologies, society has become reliant on the multiplicity of information, which is reflected within education. Modern technologies have enhanced our understanding of information, particularly the adoption of the iPad into schooling systems. The iPad’s portability and capabilities has become an innovation of it’s predecessor, the printing press. Created in 2010 by Apple, a leading company in modern technologies, the iPad has noticeably effected the experience of education (Lata, 2012). Utilised as an education tool, the iPad has over 20,000 educational apps (Apple, 2012). These apps revolve around a modern understanding of education, emphasizing the importance in pre-school learning, visual aids, and most importantly, interaction (Lata, 2012).  The interactivity of the iPad enables for an engaging education, contrasting the bleak textbooks which are proved not stimulating nor motivating. These modern education techniques were not a requirement of 15th Century education, and thus it reflects societal understanding and knowledge.

However, the iPad does lack essential skills which no doubt 15th Century education would have emphasised, such as handwriting. Ergo, it may be a reflection of the priorities of a computer based society, one in which loses it’s fundamental education necessities (Speranza, 2011). Handwriting itself, is an essential skill, one in which may become redundant in future but in it’s modern context is important (Speranza, 2011). Final examinations globally all emphasise the importance of handwriting legibility. The Australian Higher School Certificate demands a large amount of writing, with an average of five exams per student. Each student, per exam, is asked to write approximately six to eight pages (Speranza, 2011). That is the equivalent of 1,500 to 2,000 words per exam. Hence it is quite clear the necessity of handwriting to the education system, one in which is not aptly addressed by the iPad.

In contrast, the iPad’s capabilities in terms of physicality provide for a great archive of information (Ogle, 2010). Textbooks can be stored within the iPad, enabling a student to carry their many textbooks within the one technology (Lata, 2012). This advancement leads to various implications for the classroom. A move towards paperless, computer-based schooling environments enable for an environmentally efficient form of teaching (Gould, 2012). Whilst the lightweight form of the iPad reduces the pressure on the back and shoulders, caused by heavy books in students schoolbags (Apple, 2012). Thus these characteristics of the iPad are by far their greatest achievement, improving the economical, physical, and environmental factors of education.

Regardless, such departure from printed publishing forms is problematic for some. The printed form enables the student to easily engage with the information, undistracted by the procrastination of the internet (Brannon, 2007). The student will also become aware of the errors within their own work, when written opposed to onscreen (Lehrer, 2010). This is due to the specifications of the iPad screen which reduce attention span, through additional applications and alerts (Kinsley, 2010). Therefore the various tools on the iPad which attempt to increase productivity, seem to inadvertently enhance a short attention span (Kinsley, 2010). Such an issue was not prevalent during 15th Century education, and thus can be resolved as a concern of shifting technologies.

In conclusion, advancements in publishing have transformed the way in which students participated in education and gained knowledge. Alas, through discussion of the various disadvantages and advantages publishing technologies have brought to education, there is an understanding of the impacts such educational instruments play in society. The printing press created a new found audience, not predestined for the elite and rich, but for the greater society (Kapr, 1996). Similarly, the iPad deviates from the conventional, granting an audience to become familiar with new ways of understanding and learning (Gould, 2012). Finally, such transformations from the printing press to the iPad, reflect a society which is perpetually evolving, finding new ways to communicate and share knowledge.


Resource List:

Apple (2012) Apple in Education, accessed 31st of May, 2013, <>

Arthur, Peter (2004) The Impact of the Printing Press, accessed 31st of May, 2013, <>

Brannon, Barbara (2007) Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth (1983) The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Farzaneh, Arash (2009) The Historical Influences of the Printing Press, Suite101, accessed 30th of May, 2013, <>

Gould, Jasmine (2012) The iPad: Revolutionizing the Future of Education, accessed 30th of May, 2013, <>

Hall, Bjornstad (2008) Borrowed Feathers: Plagiarism and the Limits of Imitation in Early Modern Europe, Akademika Publishing, Norway.

Kapr, Albert (1996) Johann Gutenberg: The Man and His Invention, 3rd ed., Scholar Pr: Germany.

Kinsley, Sam (2010) ‘The Technics of Attention’, Paying Attention, accessed 30th of May, 2013, <>

Lata, Mike (2012) The History of the iPad: How Did It Get Here, Trainsignal, accessed 31st of May, 2013, <>

Lehrer, Jonah (2010) The Future of Reading, Wired, accessed 31st of May, 2013, <>

Ogle, Matthew (2010) Archive Fever: A Love Letter to the Post Real-Time Web, accessed 31st of May, 2013, <>

Olsen, Rachel (2011) A New View on Plagiarism, The Lost Diadem, accessed 31st of May, 2013, <>

Shaviro, Steven (2007) DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society, The Pinocchio Theory, accessed 31st of May, 2013, <>

Speranza, Laura (2011) ‘Computers are killing students’ handwriting skills’, The Sunday Telegraph, June 19th, 2011. Accessed 1st of June, 2013, <http://www.dailytelegraph. -1226 077713500>





Week Nine: Real Time Visualisation

This week we further explored visualisation, a discourse which transfers complex data into simplified visuals. In our further exploration we became familiar with more complex data, such as sound waves which are transmitted visually through a form of ‘VJ-ing’. Thus music and sound corresponds with wave formations, providing a textual and visible experience, something which was previously invisible.

This refers to the concept ‘real time visualisation’, which is when a form of data is transmitted into a visual in the immediate time. For example, ‘VJ-ing’ takes music currently being played and converts it into its visual form at the same time, involving a sense of interactivity and immediacy. The form in which in converts itself is called ‘cross signal processing’ in which one signal (or data formation) is turned into another, ultimately changing the platform.

Video: ‘Celebration’, Everydayswiss, 2013, Creative Commons Attribution, <>

These forms of real time visualisation and ‘cross signal processing’ are so important that they are being used in scientific research to further develop theories and our understanding of concepts. An example is the Scientific Visualization Studio of NASA, which utilises data and forms visual maps and imagery to “facilitate scientific inquiry” (SVS 2013). This example exemplifies the importance of conceptualising scientific research through visualisation.

Therefore through this modulation of scientific research, the marketplace of publishing and notions of publics are adjusted. Publishing has evolved to further aid the greater population through the use of easy to understand real time visualisations. Thus it informs our own ideas of the public. I believe the use of these visualisations helps the public feel as though our understanding of these complex issues is important in society. That through our common understanding of these scientific visualisations, we may come to appreciate the technological development of science.



Video: ‘Celebration’, Everydayswiss, 2013, Creative Commons Attribution, <> Accessed 1st of May, 2013.

United States Government (2013), ‘Scientific Visualization Studio’, <> Accessed 1st of May, 2013.

Wired (2012), ‘The 16 Best Visualizations of 2011’, <> Accessed 1st of May, 2013.


Week Eight: Visualising to Make Visible

This week’s lecture brought about the idea of the Information Graphic, which is  a visual representation of data. The graphics intentions is to transform large amounts of data into a visual register or manifestation, making a invisible visible.

For example, the map produced by John Snow, during the 19th Century in England, aimed to visualise the spread of Cholera in the area of Soho (Rogers, 2013).  At this time, it was believed Cholera was an airborne disease, however Snow disproved this (Rogers, 2013). Through first mapping out the area, Snow provided an accurate canvas in which he may place his results. Then through noting the Cholera victims in the streets of Soho, Snow began to see various correlations between a high concentration of Cholera victims and a water pump situated on Broad Street (Rogers, 2013). This visualisation confidently assured Snow and others of the time, that Cholera was not airborne, yet had been carried through a central water pump with Cholera contaminated water (Rogers, 2013). Therefore, this visualisation shows the benefits of information graphics and the ability in which they draw out a clearer demographic or idea.


Photo: ‘Cholera Map’ taken from Flickr under Creative Commons Licensing, 2013; <>

Thus, information graphic is considerable in research and publishing;  it allows for a form of abstraction,  which enables a greater reach of potentially dense and confusing content. Sites which adopt this visualised, transparent approach enable complex information to be readily understood by the public, sites such as Infosthetics ( and Flight Patterns UCLA (

Then we progress further from Snow’s Cholera map and look towards interactive visualisations such as the iPhone (Debord, 1967). Thus we are creating tools which visually entice us but at what cost? How does the way information graphics alter our experiences and changes us? I suppose, we have become relatively visually reliant, using visual aid as a passive crutch (Debord, 1967). Many would prefer a documentary over a non-fiction book, purely because of the level of involvement necessary (Debord, 1967). However, I believe such negative connotations do not eradicate the initial importance of information graphics. If John Snow hadn’t visually mapped out the Cholera spread in Soho, many more would have potentially died. Thus information graphics may aid our understanding of the world, but it also impairs our experience with it.


Debord, Guy (1967) Unity and Division Within Appearances’, The Society of the Spectacle , Accessed 23rd of April 2013 <>

Rogers, Simon (2013) ‘John Snow’s Data Journalism: The Cholera Map that Changed the World’ The Guardian UK, Accessed 23rd of April 2013 <>

Photo: ‘Cholera Map’ taken from Flickr under Creative Commons Licensing, 2013; <>

Week Two: History and Contemporary Developments in Publishing

A mind map on this week’s lecture with an exploration on the emergence of e-readers.
Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 4.06.39 PMReferences Used:

Brannon, Barbara A. (2007) ‘The Laser Printer as an Agent of Change’ in Baron, Sabrina et al., (eds.) Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press: 353-364

Eisenstein, Elizabeth (1979) ‘Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture’ in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change Vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 43-163

Murphie, A (2013) Introduction to PublishingLecture, Arts 2090 Publics and Publishing in Transition, University of New South Wales.