Jeff Jarvis is interested in internet freedom and that, ultimately, is his point in writing Gutenberg the Geek. He begins his Kindle single with a look at Gutenberg as an entrepreneur. He quickly analyzes the traits of and actions taken by Gutenberg that facilitated his success. He then turns to his real point, which is internet freedom. Gutenberg was able to print indulgences to fund his enterprise and yet print media, which he worked to make accessible to all once he lost proprietary control in the courts, led to the Protestant Reformation, which opened with a critique of the selling of indulgences. Print, he follows many scholars in arguing, was a disruptor to accepted cultural practices and its disruptions, unforeseen by Gutenberg or those around him, changed our world. The internet, he argues, has the same potential, a potential we cannot see because we are bound by the very cultural practices it disrupts.
I was very curious about what Jarvis would have to say and, while his message was economically delivered and easy to grasp, I walked away feeling this single was, more than anything, an invitation to read his longer works and follow his extended argument about internet freedom. Gutenberg was not his passion, but his tool. I can’t help but think Gutenberg deserved better.