The period of standardization of the 15th century was influenced primarily through the distribution of books and information allowing for greater access to knowledge (Eisenstein 1979, p. 71). Silverstone (2006, p. 229-248) identifies the transition from a period of technological determinism Johannes Gutenberg’s personal invention of a printing press sparked developments made in the publishing assemblages of media. Production, science, art, religion and philosophy rapidly influenced society through its vast distribution, effectively influencing a level of standardisation. Greater numbers of information allowed cheaper production and the purchase of the these philosophical thoughts allowed ideas to ravage the minds of humans from all over the world, in different places and even up to the 21st century and onwards.
Vast socio-cultural impacts instigated through the new methods of printing advanced the theory that the network of communication networks and their interconnecting nodes has power and influence on the lives of all individuals as academic research has highlighted how vast innovations has impacted society. Silverstone (2006, p. 229-248) signifies a period of transition from technological determinism where view points have revolved around the theory that technological advancement and innovation was an impact upon social change. Furthermore, the studies are developed considering a centrifugal assemblage of mediated culture in the 21st century and onwards. From the perspective of assemblages and actor-network theory the printing industry is a network containing human and non-human actants, thus all actants in a network, human or non-human are entirely equal in regards to an ontological view and have the possibility to be taken into use towards exploring the capabilities of publishing in time transitions. Bruno Latour, a contributing founder of the actor-network theory emphasised both social and technical assemblage elements contain agencies, thus both obtain the ability to influence socio-cultural activities and society itself. The printing press itself is an assemblage however smaller assemblages are fundamental to its conception. Ink, paper, the alphabet, a keyboard and the people who use the finishing product act as smaller agents and networks. Simply put, the printing press would not exist without its key elements, fundamental to its functionality demonstrating the performance of assemblage networks within a wider picture. An example of this is imbedded in the practice of a protest. In October 2011 Syrian activists and protests turned to social media as a way to reach the outside world as all coverage of protests were banned within the country. Facebook in this sense is an assemblage part of a bigger picture, a bigger assemblage involving the relationships between people and technology.
Castells (2005, p. 3-7) expresses the view point that the network society is a structure made up by independent nodes which distribute information with other nodes equally. This stands in opposition towards a centripetal or centrifugal structure of social assemblages and networks. The thoughts of Silverstone and Castells i personally view as a relative towards the theory of actor-network theory as each actant is equally important and relative to the complete assemblage. The printing press is a make up of vast assemblages however interaction occurs between an assemblage and other networks such as publishers, business, websites and so forth. The dissemination of ideas was fundamental to the period of standardization and its evolution towards the 21st century where we have a society characterised by accessibility to sources consisting of unlimited knowledge and content. Thus, without the existence of disseminating ideas or the desire to do so the printing press system or the Internet itself would not exist. Printing presses and the Internet as an assemblage paved the way for further developments in assemblages, advancing technology as the fundamental tool of communication. In the perspective of the actor-network theory and assemblages there is continually efforts to portray the relationship and its importance between individuals, society and technology. This is enhanced by Latour’s theories demonstrating the most effective way to analyse and understand media and its social impacts on society its to critique assemblages and their formation in the process of relationships. To understand media and society different perspectives and theories must be taken as the world is an interconnecting node and analysis must take place on different assemblages and relationships.
Understanding the relations between different elements and underlying factors is always important when looking at assemblages or in general, the big picture yet when discussing with my friend yesterday we noted that the further we continue our studies into a certain topic or relationships it can sometimes feel the bigger picture altogether is lost.
Eisenstein, E 1979, “Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture” in The printing press an agent of change, vol. 1, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 43-63.
Silverstone, R 2006, “Domesticating domestication. Reflections on the life of a concept” in Berker, Thomas et all (Eds) Domestication of media and technology, Berkshire, UK, Open University Press, pp. 229-248.