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>