Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450, and says he has regretted it ever since. “Look what has come of it!” he cried. “Manuscripts put in print without a pfennig of royalty to the authors! Newspapers! Yellow journalism! My invention released a thirst for information that has resulted in a biblical flood of information, mis and otherwise, truth sacrificed to the narrative, everyone a consumer of and creator of information!” His voice rose, and shaking me by the shoulders, he shouted, “If I had it to do over again I’d strangle myself with my very own umbilical cord! Not only that, but I never made a florin out of the damned printing press!” As I left him he was carving tiny letters on tiny blocks of wood, and muttering fiercely.
“I did my best, God knows I tried,”
He muttered in his beard,
“The social contract up and died
Exactly as I feared
Most people need not know the truth
About their masters’ lives
And certainly it’s past uncouth
To photograph their wives
With iPhones here and Twitter there
One’s privacy is gone
A fishbowl life where all may stare!
My printing press’s spawn!”