We Should Start a Book Club!

Whether it’s from a sense of being nostalgic or old-fashioned, I’m not ready to see the end of page-turners. I still choose physical books over digital ones, and I bet I’m not alone.

What is the greatest invention of all time? Reasonable people could disagree. Strong submissions include the internal combustion engine for its disruption in transportation and industry, vaccinations for their public health benefits, and the computer or internet for their impact on everything from data storage to global communications.

I would respectfully disagree with advocates for each of these, however. I would argue that, but for one other technological innovation, none of these would have been developed. Moreover, this innovation had an immediate and radical impact on society from the moment it was created. My vote for greatest invention goes to Johannes Gutenberg and his mechanical, moving type printing press.

Gutenberg’s new thingamajig dramatically reduced the amount of time required to create a book, allowing the printed word to expand rapidly across the globe. More books meant that more people could access them. Access to books represents access to the knowledge contained therein, so I would argue that the printing press was a necessary invention for mass-education to become possible. I would further argue that advanced inventions like those listed above do not happen without broad societal access to education.

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