Social media guru Clay Shirky weaved in and out of media history to discuss how radically open platforms, including Gutenberg’s printing press, give new voice to the masses—but it’s not always immediately a constructive phenomenon. Even back in 1499, erotic novels were published as books, a startling 150 years before the first scientific treatises were printed and distributed, Shirky said. “More media means more argument,” Shirky also observed, acknowledging that instead of the “world peace” that the telegraph, the radio, and TV promised, the opposite (at least in terms of heated debate) followed nearly every new communications medium of the last century or so.
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