A ledger of record
Or what Gutemberg has in common with a pixellated ape.
The Internet has been confusing lately. Everything has. Every meeting, family reunion and friends’ hangout invariably touches the new, hot subject: cryptocurrency.
Most folks just refer to it to deride it. Many try to discombobulatedly explain as if they are the cypherpunk masters. But fail. Frustration ensues.
Maybe the repeating topic has something to do with the fact that the current events are just a remix from previous lessons of history, and deep inside we know there’s something very important brewing.
When Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 theses onto the door of Wittenberg’s All Saints Church, he was protesting powers that the Pope had given himself.
Not to get into a theological debate so close to Christmas and in such a positive spirited blog as mine is, we’ll just leave it at Luther’s acts marking the beginning of the Reformation, which split Europe into two religious factions and opened the way to several religious wars in the coming centuries.
The point is that Luther was able to succeed in his challenge to Rome because of memes.
Yes. He memed a religion into existence. Much like Doge coin, if you think of it.
He had help to become viral though. Yup. He became viral in the 1500s. Much like Khaby Lame, by pointing out the obvious.
Almost a century before Martin Luther’s performance, the social media platform that allowed him to go viral was created.
The printing press was not invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-1400s though. His innovation, the metal movable type that allowed any book to be printed in a short time, was just the end of a long trail of innovations.
In previous printing press iterations, entire pages had to be composed and etched before printing. This is called woodblock printing. It’s a ton of fun if you wanna pursue it artistically.
Back to Joe G. Regardless of his invention not being the sole product of his genius, it was the fact that he made printing cheap and accessible to the masses which allowed Luther to go viral.
Kind of like Twitter, if you will.
All this to say that the massive impact of the metal movable type can now be seen from design (new fonts could be created) to literature (thousands of books could be quickly and cheaply printed) to new work ethics and systems of belief (see Marty L’s meme story above).
Those and countless other innovations were able to emerge thanks to the printing press being perfected in the 1400s.
The thing is, during those times, maybe 5% of the population was able to read.
Gutemberg’s press made a dramatic shift in history. We cannot imagine life in the 2020s without books.
Yet when Gutemberg introduced it, the percentage of the population who understood it, could use it and could benefit from it immediately was ridiculously small.
That situation is repeating now. Our version of memes and social media are doing something similar to what they did 600 years ago.
And there’s more. The innovations in banking and finance that emerged in relatively far away corners of Europe is akin to the current advances in technology that have governments and multilateral organizations everywhere worried sick about a destabilization of the system.
Pretty much what happened in the 1400s.
Joshua Rosenthal is a recovering historian. He has a PhD in something I cannot even pronounce. Medieval History related. He knows his Renaissance.
I owe this post to his vision of how what we are going through today is a Renaissance of sorts.
We are discovering new platforms for arts, which link the Medici and NFT apes, and we’re finding new ways of communicating with people through social media, blogs and mailing lists. Pretty much what the printing press did.
Oh, and we are reinventing accounting. Luca Pacioli is the first on record to have used a double-entry ledger to keep books.
We are discovering new ways of funding our endeavors, which links the emergence of banks and accounting with today’s decentralized finance and crypto revolution.
The word Renaissance is French for re-birth. It implies a cycle of repeated returns.
Bitcoin is the reinvention of the ledger of record. I’m convinced we are living through a new Renaissance.
And any of us could be the new da Vinci. So stop reading this nonsense and go create something epic.
My annoying practice of posting important links at the end has an evil purpose: so you don’t click on them and leave the page before you finish reading my illuminated words. Ok sometimes they are not that illuminated. But the content of these links is: