It may be easy to retrofit a piece of technology. It may be easy to make the old work with the new. But it’s almost impossible to go back once you’ve moved forward. It’s difficult to unsee something once you’ve caught a glimpse of it.
The adoption of the printing press and mechanical writing in the West occurred without the customary clash between the practicians of the old order and the pioneers of the new technology. Some scribes, anxious that printing represented the end of their trade as they knew it, put up a fight, criticising the printers and moveable type enthusiasts. But their fight didn’t slow down the process of mechanical transformation of writing. To the extent that within a generation, the literate culture of Western Europe movef away from the manuscript and onto the printed page. For the consumers of 15th and 16th-century words, it was difficult to unsee the printed word once it glowed, in the cold light of mechanical reproduction, on the paper page. Europe had turned a new leaf.