Posted on | February 23, 2011 | No Comments
658 years ago, on February 23, 1455, Gutenberg published in Mainz his first mechanically printed bible. Production had begun about 5 years earlier, or so it seems – you can imagine the innovation process supporting this launch, which reminds us of R&D investments nowadays.
In hindsight, Gutenberg’s Bible would mark the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance. Of course it is not the cause of this change – the spread of humanism in Italy, the discovery of forgotten Greek and Roman philosophers preceded it. But it acted in a way as a symbol, a symbol of knowledge’s new freedom. Spreading ideas around no longer depended on monks acting as copyists – now everybody (at least, those who were fairly well-off) could now afford to publish books of their own.
In the same vein, the events unfolding in the Arab world follow a unique historical movement. If, for example, Kaddafi’s demise had occurred on February 23, we could declare this day as crucial in this revolution’s recent history. In truth, there is a whole paradigm shift occurring: the democratization of knowledge and information as reached a new stage in the Middle East. Al-Jazeera, Facebook, Twitter and other media made obsolete the conditions which allowed past dictators to hang onto power.
What a nice symbol, than, and what a historical coincidence if both event should share the same anniversary.