We live in an age of lists, as media outlets attempt to rearrange all the day’s events into a numbered format (even the assassination of President Kennedy). Inundated though we are, there are stories that that are better told with numbers. When The Atlantic tackled transformative technologies, it did so with a list-The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel-in an all-around interesting read.
The Atlantic is one of the magazines I still receive in print, which is how I learned about the list, but I could’ve perused the technology retrospective on the magazine’s web site, via its various “apps”, or by following it on social media. Any/all of those media could, in turn, be accessed by my desktop computer or with smart phone/tablet. And all these myriad options, in a sense, can be traced back to the magazine’s choice for the No. 1 technology since the wheel:
1. The printing press, 1430s
The printing press was nominated by 10 of our 12 panelists, five of whom ranked it in their top three. Dyson described its invention as the turning point at which “knowledge began freely replicating and quickly assumed a life of its own.”
Information is so easily disseminated now that it’s hard to wrap our heads around how revolutionary Johannes Gutenberg’s movable-type printing press was at the time. Today, however, we’re in the midst of similarly transformative explosion of information, as the proliferation of “smart” devices places networked computers in our pockets. Forget the Gutenberg Bible, Google recently got the legal go ahead for its project to create a “comprehensive, searchable, virtual card catalog of all books in all languages.” How’s that for “freely replicating” knowledge?
Against this backdrop, Gardner Business Media, Inc., publisher of Plastics Technology, is undertaking its annual survey of manufacturing professionals media usage. The goal:
An industry-wide survey that will define how manufacturing professionals, like you, are accessing and sharing information. More specifically, where and how you are learning about new technologies; discovering new manufacturing processes; and staying up-to-date on industry events and developments.
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