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Man hardly comes in more than two varieties, wherever he is, whatever he does: workers and pimps … they’re either one or the other! … and inventors, the worst kind of jobholder! … they stand condemned! … the writer who doesn’t pimp along, peacefully plagiarizing, who doesn’t pump out the pop stuff, he’s had it! … everybody hates him!
At the Egyptian city of Naucratis there was a famous old god whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis was sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters.
The rule in our society is that while those who kill once make wretched a single person are severely punished, those (heads of state, inventors, manufacturers) who are responsible for the death, mutilation or general wretchedness of thousands or millions are rewarded with fame, riches and prizes… If you are going to rob, rob big; if you’re going to kill, kill big.
Both instruments are processors of information. Both appeared when nothing quite like them had existed before, and both began to make their effects felt immediately (a situation that isn’t invariable with new technology). Both devices were less the result of a single breakthrough than of an evolving set of technologies. Like the computer, the printing press had no one certain inventor; it was a technology whose time had come.