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In which we test the patters developed in the previous chapter by looking at the impact of the printing press.

With the information revolution following the introduction of the printing press we begin to have much better records and therefore we can “zoom in” on how information worked after its introduction.

History Pattern from Chapter VII
The information revolution lasted approximately 250 years, roughly from 1450 to 1700. There are two phases to the economic impact of the press: Timing Phased Behavior
First Phase During this phase, only the elites have increased information access. They innovate making existing organization more centralized and efficient. Across Europe there was a universal consolidation and centralization made possible by better ways of tracking, made possible by the press. Universities and schools were established for the training of ministers to administer a growing government and church.

Improved maps made exploration and conquest profitable. All the major European powers gained New World colonies. Spain and Portugal especially made fortunes based on New World gold and conquest.

Synchronisity, Information Access, Unit Size
During this phase the attitudes and actions of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant reformers set the stage for how the press was received in various countries. Spain and other Catholic countries suppressed the press out of fear of heresy (especially Lutheran and Calvinist heresy spread by the press) whereas the Protestant countries did not suppress the press. However the differences between the various countries are not apparent until the next phase. Fear and Repressive Reaction
Second Phase Where common people have increased information access, they innovate creating new forms of production and hence wealth. Where common people did not have increased information access this kind of development did not take place. Thus the way the press was received in various countries determined whether common people had information access and this determined how they developed economically.

For example:

Phased Behavior, Information Access
  • Spain – acting out of fear of heresy – was repressive. It limited the products of the press to those approved of by the Roman Catholic Church. The common people did not have information access and thus they failed to develop and were eventually economically ruined. Instead Spain continued to try to increase their wealth through conquest which only served to further destroy their economy. They were in a competitive context without a viable economy and the elites spent their wealth buying the products of high information access countries – Holland and England – further eroding their tax base. Thus they were addicted to war and conquest as the way to increase wealth.
Fear and Repressive Reaction, Success is Conservative
  • Holland and England did not control the press and as a consequence common people learned to read, write and understand double entry bookkeeping they innovated and eventually invented capitalism – mercantile capitalism in Holland and industrial capitalism in England.
  • France exerted intermediate control of the press and their economic development was also intermediate.
Information Access
East and West: In Europe the press was introduced into a competitive context. However, even though China and Korea had the press before Europe, in the East there was little competition therefore the printing press in East did not have the same impact as it did in the West e.g. the press was used to serve the emperor and members of the elite and did not promote literacy of the common people or lead to the development of capitalism. Competition
Gender Relations: Changes in production, related to innovation based on literacy and numeracy of the crafts producing classes changed relations between men, women and children. Before the press women were an essential part of production, after the press they became identified with the interior, and with children.
Before the press literacy was a function of class after the press boys were preferentially taught to read and so men were perceived as educable whereas women were perceived as uneducable.
Information Access
The crisis of the 17th century was a period of general instability and economic downturn that marks the end of the information revolution following the press. Limits, Synchronisity

This chapter shows us how to observe an information revolution with greater resolution and understand the dynamics that govern economic change in response to differential information access.

We can see how well the model predicts the dynamics of this information revolution.