Internet tops list of greatest inventions

Over 20 years ago A&E ran a show listing the greatest inventions in history. It was fun guessing what would be first.

Electricity was near the top. Paper, refrigeration, the wheel, plumbing, the compass, and the telephone were givens. Radio and TV. Suddenly only the first was left and I was out of ideas. I was stumped.

It was…the printing press!

It was embarrassing because I am employed in the print industry.

The press allowed for the mass distribution of information. Until then, each copy of a book had to be copied by hand. It was a tedious process to say the least, and very, very slow.

The press allowed for information to be distributed to the common folk and everything changed. Politicians and the church were suddenly challenged and could no longer keep anything a secret.

Of course, they countered with their own propaganda. It’s a war that has continued to this day.

Later inventions such as radio and TV increased dissemination of information. It was a later addition to the impact the printing press had on history.

If the printing press was proclaimed the world’s greatest invention until 2000, what would it be today? The obvious answer in the Internet.

In the same way the printing press allowed for information to be shared, the Internet has taken that process one step further into an entirely different world. Now, everything is at one’s fingertips and easier than at any time in history.

Internet users must still wade through the mountains of information to arrive at what they perceive is the truth. Fact is, there is a lot of bad information on the Internet but it was the same with printed material. No difference whatsoever except the print industry has some guidelines whereas the Internet is a complete free for all.

The Internet is not without its flaws. There are virtually countless websites dedicated to the evils of the world. Every vice imaginable is available.

But so is all the good. Self-help sites, home remedies, how to fix stuff is all there. If religion is your thing, the Bible has never been more available or whatever religion you practice.

Information is knowledge and knowledge is power. Through the printing press, radio, TV and Internet, people are more informed that at any point in history. Look at any school or coffee shop and you see a myriad of people on their phones. Sure, many are using the Internet for entertainment value but it is still an incredible source of information. Any interaction and/or communication is a good thing.

It is hard to imagine what other sources of information will evolve over time. The human race has an insatiable need for information. It is hard to imagine a more powerful presence on this planet than the Internet.

Then again, we never thought of radio, then TV and the Internet. Something is lurking out there. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

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