In the excerpt from his book, Johns hopes to describe to the reader the important of how media is actually printed. He describes the various cultures that have arisen as a result of different printing styles, and displays their similarities and differences with respect to how they impacted their local culture. Johns also describes each individual aspect of the creation of printing techniques, from who is doing the printing to what regulations tend to govern them with respect to piracy and standardization.
- The key argument throughout the piece is the idea of trust placed in printed words. Johns begins by describing the amount of confidence we have in the validity of what media we consume, stating that even his book “contains information believed to be accurate, and it professes to impart knowledge to readers like you” (Johns 1). Regulations helped later in print media’s lifespan, disposing of the “routine hazards” of “unauthorized translations, epitomes, imitations, and other varieties of ‘impropriety’” (Johns 30).
- Similarly to the confidence issues stemming from the validity of information within a printed book, the history of piracy and protection against such acts also displays itself as a major topic point within Johns’s work. However, this was mainly attributed to a fear of piracy rather than actual actions being taken to reproduce work, as then “then trusting any printed report without knowledge of those processes could be rash” (Johns 30-31). Essentially, Johns is citing the idea that paranoia would run rampant in our hopes to understand print media, and books probably would not be as popular as they are today due to the inherent nature of their ability to be reproduced. Going back to my first topic point, this relates to the idea and contentedness with regulations helping to make sure what we read is fact.
- Johns additionally discusses the idea of conversations held between works of book literature near the beginning of the advent of print culture. One of the key examples given throughout were a cluster of scientists, such as Tycho Brahe, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler and Orazio Grassi. Essentially, works of literature can be directed at certain parties, especially when not mass produced, and allow for larger scale discussions to be had concerning all manners of information. Tycho Brahe himself was apparently quite representative of the ideas of print culture.
- One confusing aspect of Johns’s work was the idea of sheer paranoia that does not exist in print. While I understand that regulations certainly help to make sure miscommunication and the spread of false ideas does not occur, it seems as though without these rules people would be spreading these thoughts solely to sell their own works. Perhaps they could claim that their works are smarter or more right than other works, especially in the centuries before global communications and the Internet. What prevented these older groups from printing whatever they felt like beyond a social stigmatism?
- In all honesty, the many connections made between Tycho Brahe and other scientists of his era confused me. Perhaps it is merely the writing style that Johns chose to implement, but it seems as though all of that information could more easily be condensed without so much “gibbering” between thoughts. The sheer amount of data that needed to be processed to understand what Johns was attempting to communicate made that section of the excerpt very confusing as a whole.
- My question for the class — How has the Internet changed how we view original content and fact-checking? The ideas Johns posits about misplaced and absent paranoia regarding the mass distribution of facts in print culture seems to be an idea that has come back around in global communications today on the Internet. With the ability to fact-check nearly anything at the push of a button or the click of a mouse, why are some sources still subject to question?