Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

The End of an Era

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.

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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

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