Too free of speech

“Damn, dilution is a powerful force.” I thought that as I watched pages of neon paper curl out of the laser printer in our office, one by one, this evening. These kids’ menus will be important sheets that show off chicken strips, hot dogs and cheeseburgers along with crayon artwork. It took about 5 minutes for 150 of them to pile up…

Back in the late 90’s I went to school to learn about graphic design. In those classes we were taught some now extinct skills. We used stock pages of photo-ready lettering and artwork to literally cut (with scissors or knife) and paste (with the hot wax roller) together a newsletter layout. The result of our paper surgery was laid on a vacuum plate in front of a process camera. We shot and developed the large-format film. Then the negatives were exposed onto metal plates covered in light blue emulsion that we rinsed away in a solvent bath…

Then we were able to mount the plates onto a basic sheet-fed one-color offset printing press. When powered on, the metal plate would spin and clunk and click in rhythym while beginning to cover the rubber drum with a sticky wet inked image. Pull a lever and the suction cups would lift and deliver the top sheet to the spinning cylinders. A quick ride around and out the other side, the 8 ½” x 14” page would arrive with our newsletter on one side.

If you wanted to have a back side to it, you could start the whole thing over again from the beginning.

A very complicated process like this actually changed the world in the 1400’s… That was when Gutenberg printed the Bible. It was the beginning of a massive shift and it happened because words could be reliably ‘painted’ onto thin leafy vellum.

Today, I’m guessing that almost every single person reading this blog has a ‘printing press’ in their own homes. Our inkjet or laser printers are so incredibly more advanced, simple and accessible than their great-great grandparents, the screw press with movable type.

Is everyone with a ‘printing press’ in their home changing the future of humanity with it? Do the machine’s capabilities automatically translate into transformation for our culture?? It seems almost the opposite doesn’t it? Printing presses are one of the most common office or home items and yet huge breakthroughs don’t spit out of them all.

When there was very few machines like this and it took a lot of work, The Bible, the word of God, made history. It’s the content on the page, not the page itself or even the breakthrough process that did.

The whole of Earth is now flooded with printing presses. With this kind of dilution and overloading of the ability to embed words onto paper, we seem to be doing less importance with it. The normality of the astonishing technology at our fingertips renders it weaker than ever.

The deluge of information coming across our screens and therefore eyes, washes away the value of the headlines, the posts and the sentiments we are consuming. Doesn’t it?

Maybe if it took hard manual labor for weeks on end to record and publish an idea, we would invest more effort into it. Here, in this example, I just plopped down for an hour and fifteen minutes in the middle of the night to string together some words for you and for me.

It’s probably too easy, to really make a difference, and that may be the problem itself.

Until next week, be amazed my friends, and be vigilant in case the next big shift wants to arrive through You.

God Bless 🙂


Aaron Nichols

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