I posted a first draft of my essay Going Home in February. This week I was talking to a friend, Kashmir Birk about the similarities between the Gutenberg Bible and Social Software and how Social Software may have the same explosive impact on human society and on who has power.
We had what we thought was a huge AHA!
In my draft essay, I had remarked how , as many others have, it was the cheapness and availability of the printed page that made the difference in giving the people the power.
But as we talked this week, a new thought emerged. I had been in a meeting offering a client a web site based on the new technology. A critical part of the new type of site is the use of powerful search rather than a book-like taxonomy. Wikipedia versus say a Government of Canada site - all tabs and navigation.
The client was stunned to understand that the search engine was not only very powerful but free. 5 years ago the search engine would have cost $30,000 and would have been peripheral to the site architecture.
Later the AHA hit me. As importantly as reducing the cost per page, the really huge idea behind Gutenberg was the use of the local language.
Until then not only were books produced by a high cost production system but they were written in this strange code called Greek or Latin that only a Priest understood! Has not technology been written in a language known only to priests? Called Fortran, Cobol or Flash, only the initiated could use it. Now not only are the new tools cheap but they can be understood by the layman.
As with the rise of Protestantism - we no longer need a priest between us and God. The tools will not only do away with much of the IT world/Priesthood but will of course take down their dependents - the monarchs/ large organizations.