Mobile Blessings

   The 7th Chapter of the Powers book, ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a good life in the digital age’, starts with a recap of the pandemonium that occurred when the iPhone3 was released a few years ago.  Such powerful technology. “They’re better at making us busier. Their greatest strength is their greatest weakness”(pg.122). The book points out the dilemma that technology like this delivers maximum connectedness, but that’s what makes them a burden.
There were a few pages following that about the history of ‘reading’. For 1000+ years, from the invention of written language, up until roughly the 15th century  reading was done aloud.  It was an Oral and Social skill, usually done in groups, because most people couldn’t read and books were expensive.
After that, there was another story about the German city of Aachen in 1432, and their religious relics that were only shown to the public every 7years, which caused a similar frenzy as the iPhones release. Vendors in the city sold handheld mirrors to catch light which reflected off the relics, so travelers could take the blessings with them (mobile blessings).   The mirrors are a metaphor for our phones, handheld devices meant to connect us to something bigger (and be better off because of it).
The popularity of the mirrors inspired Gutenberg to use an olive press to mass produce them. Gutenberg went on to invent a printing press to mass produce the Bible, changing the act of reading into an inward activity (allowing people to contemplate within and think for themselves).
By the 1500s, books were small and very popular, taking power from the Church, and shaping the modern world. There’s a difference between access to information and experiencing it (pg.135). How original could you be, if you never step away from the crowd? Gutenberg’s invention allowed for More ideas to be expressed to More people via mass printed books, and online media today allows people to publish their thoughts to the whole world with ease.


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