Media Revolutions

I was looking into the Revolutions of 1848. Another one of those obscure moments in history you hear about and need to query. What I instantly recognized was the similarities with the current Arab Spring. Once you piece things together a little further, we can see a strategic theme of communications advancement and media revolution as drivers of human society.

The Revolutions of 1848 started in France and spread to over 50 countries. It was not coordinated. The only commonality was the underlying demands for more democracy and justice against autocratic governments. Sound familiar? Very similar to the Arab Spring foundations. What enabled both revolutions? I say enhanced communications.

The Arab Spring was built within the last 10 years on the tools of technology and the internet social platforms. They have allowed a more efficient spread of ideas within the public. The impact on society and what it demands is directly affected as we can see. Heck, the governments know this and turn off the internet switch when things start going bad.

The Revolutions of 1848 were built on the new technology of printed newspapers. Up until then, the means of public communications was limited to pamphlets posted on public buildings and churches. Newspapers allowed people to share their ideas with more people. Many discussion groups were formed in local cafes to discuss the latest newspaper articles. Sound similar to internet forums or Facebook? The impact on society and what it demands is directly affected.

So if we apply this media revolution idea to human history does it extend? I say yes. What happened in 1452? The first Bible was printed. The printing revolution led to a religious reformation in Europe which lasted hundreds of years. The Catholic church was under assault and more demands for liberty were placed on governments. This would not have been possible without printing and the ability to share ideas by posting pamphlets on public venues. The impact on society and what it demands is directly affected.

What happened when writing was invented? This was another media revolution. Ruling officials were able to document and demand things from their bureaucracy and impose uniformity where is was not possible before. The ability for them to rule large and more organized societies had begun. Scientists were able to document their findings and share knowledge across distances. The birth of civilization. The impact on society and what it demands is directly affected.

I think you can even draw the analogy into pre-history. What happened when speech began. The first media revolution in a sense. It led to the birth of humanity.

Neal Ekengren