All six parts of a BBC documentary called The Machine That Made Us are on YouTube: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six (60 minutes total). (BTW, if you’re in the UK, you can watch it on the BBC’s iPlayer.) The film stars Stephen Fry and tells the history of the Gutenberg Press.
Stephen’s investigation combines historical detective work and a hands-on challenge. He travels to France and Germany on the trail of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press and early media entrepreneur. Along the way he discovers the lengths Gutenberg went to keep his project secret, explores the role of avaricious investors and unscrupulous competitors, and discovers why printing mattered so much in medieval Europe.
But to really understand the man and his machine, Stephen gets his hands dirty - assembling a team of craftsmen and helping them build a working replica of Gutenberg’s original press. He learns how to make paper the 15th-century way and works as an apprentice in a metal foundry in preparation for the experiment to put the replica press through its paces. Can Stephen’s modern-day team match the achievement of Gutenberg’s medieval craftsmen?
Here’s part one to get you started:
I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but it’s supposed to be really good. Oh, and if you’re thinking “who does this Fry bloke think he is going on about technology like he knows something about it”, you should check out his blog…he’s a top-notch tech blogger. (thx, dean)