Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How The Smartphone And The Printing Press Changed The World

The printing press made monks obsolete.  They no longer had a monopoly on the scriptures.  The bible was published in popular languages and could be read and interpreted by the faithful.  That led to the reformation and years of warfare within the Christian community.  It also enabled scientists, philosophers and others to share their ideas with each other.  The exchange of information and ideas led to the industrial revolution and the formation of democratic governments.  Monarchies were overthrown along with the monks who lost their monopoly.  The US revolution was based upon ideas and principles that were easily shared through the print media.  The French Revolution was also inspired by the spread of ideas by way of the print media. 

This article argues that the smartphone is changing the world much like the advent of the printing press.  It argues that Mitch McConnell, who is the Republican leader of the Senate,  is much like the monks who lost their monopoly over the scriptures.  He possessed the levers of power that are granted to his position by the Republican Party. He could use his powers to allocate resources to senators and political candidates that met with his favor.  Donald Trump is not a Republican.  He won a primary campaign against tradition Republicans who were supported by the Republican Party and its apparatus.  He used the smartphone and the social media to reach his audience without help from the Republican Party.  He was also assisted in the general election by his campaign, and other supporters who effectively used the social media to win the election.  Bernie Sanders also used the social media to wage a battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.  He did much better in the primary campaign than might have been expected by his effective use of the social media.  It would appear that the smartphone, and the social media, may have seriously weakened the monopoly that political parties had before the revolution in the distribution of information.  We may only be in the beginning of this revolution.  It will affect other institutions beyond our political parties.  We are in a new era and we don't know where it will lead us.

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