Commentary by MTSU Professor - Books, Reading, Computers and a Man Named

Aug 22, 2023 at 08:28 pm by WGNS News

Books, computers and a man named Johann Gutenberg. With today's media commentary, here's MTSU professor Larry Burriss... Hear more from Dr. Burriss by clicking the graphic below.



Commentary Verbatim:  "But here’s the thing, you can’t have Gutenberg’s letterpress printing without a massive infrastructure, just like you can’t have the Internet and social media without a massive new infrastructure.

In order for books to be a success there has to be a reliable distribution system, you need to create new industries to manufacture huge quantities of ink and paper. Someone has to build the presses, which means you need a ready supply of wood.

You also need someone trained in the building of a printing press, a device that doesn’t really exist in the early 1400s.

You need to train people to use the new equipment, and someone has to check the spelling and grammar.

Speaking of spelling and grammar, suddenly, you need to standardize how words are spelled and used

And if you are going to mass produce books, you can’t just sell them to the elite, you have to create a market, which also means you have to train people to read, which means establishing a school system, which means, in turn, new buildings, which means, in turn, massive amounts of brick and mortar, and people to actually build the buildings and then teach the classes.

So, jump ahead to the 21st century. First, we never could have had computers, tablets and cell phones without the printing press.      After all, what medium do you think the inventors of these systems used in the development phases of these modern marvels? That’s right, they used books.

So, just like books, the Internet and social media require reliable distribution systems. Someone has to build all of the computers, cameras and cables you need, and their training probably involved books, real books, paper and ink.

So the next time you use the simple computer in your microwave oven to fix some popcorn, or use the massive supercomputer at Michigan State University that can do 2-quintillion computations a second, all of them can trace their lineage directly back 550 years to Johann Gutenberg and his newfangled book. - I’m Larry Burriss.”

About Dr. Burriss - Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.


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