In his Atlantic review of Mark Kurlansky’s new book Paper: Paging Through History, Reid Mitenbuler gives us a brief overview of the history and impact of paper ,and how modern technology is once again radically shifting the way we communicate:
‘…Beyond tweeting, how would Plato have responded to modern changes in the way humans communicate? During his own time, people increasingly recorded their thoughts and experiences in writing, and he worried that written language reduced our reliance on memory. The tool made us less human, even mechanical, he argued, because once something was jotted down, it no longer came from within a person. It was less authentic, and therefore less true.
Then again, Plato expressed this concern in Phaedrus, his dialogue that most famously grapples with the issue, by writing it down.
Plato’s complicated relationship with writing—or really, with the seismic shifts of technological change—forms the heart of an impressive new book, Paper: Paging Through History. Mark Kurlansky …picks up a seemingly mundane commodity to examine a wider phenomenon: historical attitudes toward disruptive technologies. His question: how do humans absorb and disseminate information? His answer helps reveal the evolution, both politically and economically, of how the world has come to be organized….’ Read more:
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