Communicating: Start spreading the Word!

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Start Spreading the Word!

Communicating is about spreading the word. In ancient history, communication began with the oral word as languages were invented. Later, in medieval times, people risked life and limb to carry royal proclamations from ruler to subject or to carry messages from town to town. “Don’t shoot the messenger” was a real edict in medieval Europe...anything done to the messenger who carried proclamations was considered done to the king and was a treasonable offense. The Town Crier in colonial America carried messages from hamlet to hamlet and made sure the populace heard the message. Town criers wore uniforms to enhance their credibility. From colonial America, we all know the story of the ride of Paul Revere carrying the message of the attack of the British to the colonists. While some were responsible for carrying the message, others, like Ben Franklin in colonial America, had to print the message at a printing company for later distribution.

Fast forward to the 21st century. The printing process is now more widely distributed, taking place everywhere from printshops to homes and businesses. At the same time, the computer and internet revolution means that some messages can be spread at the speed of electricity, traveling around the world in seconds. Information dissemination takes place 24 hours per day and is more important than ever. Electronic media is probably the primary source of information these days but there are also many other important media. Speech, radio, television, the internet, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and other printed media all play a role.

So, what is the role of printing in the communications puzzle in today's world?

For several hundred years, the printed word represented the facts, the truth and the record. Printing was important since it allowed ideas to be widely distributed and made them readily available for later revision. Would the Constitution ever have been written without the Magna Carta? As time went on, although digital documents became more and more accepted, printing retained a level of trustworthiness that electronic media sometimes lacked. Printing is still a way to persuade, to make something real and to express creativity.

Printing stimulates more than the sense of sight; you can feel textures of various paper types and some “special effects” are only available in print. The role of printing today is somewhat the same as it has always been: to persuade, to communicate and to impress. The audience has changed, but the importance of printing as a communications media remains significant.