The History of Writing
The following chapter is from the Prolific Writer eBook
For you to learn the importance of writing, you need to learn the history of communication.
Overall, this is not going to be a super comprehensive documentation of communication.
It is going to cover the high-level points for you to appreciate writing on a deeper level.
You can say the era of creativity as we know it started with fire.
Fire allowed our ancient ancestors the ability to cook their food, stay warm….and do activities even after it was dark.
Back in the days, darkness took away most functionalities.
With the discovery of fire, the game had changed.
Now there was more time to gain access for other modes of behavior.
Beforehand, the main form of creativity our ancient ancestors were exhibiting came down to designing weapons and finding methods to gather food.
Cave art was born.
Fire allowed our ancient ancestors to melt a lot of items to use for the cave art.
With the fire radiating in the background, worlds of imagination formed.
As cave art developed, we were able to see that pictures were the main mode of communication.
Words? Not quite.
Words were not a concept for our ancient ancestors.
Do I consider words a technology?
You bet your ass I do.
At a core level, we were communicating with pictures and body language.
Our bodies were able to communicate messages.
You will often notice how well pet owners can communicate with their pet.
Although the human and animal cannot communicate with words, they are able to communicate with signals.
Hand gestures, face gestures, tonality allow communication messages to be relayed.
And that is how our ancient ancestors communicated.
However, as the society began to grow, times of change were needed.
Picture body language as dial up internet.
It can communicate a message, sure.
But is it effective and fast?
Same applies with pictures.
No one fully knows when the first words were discovered.
It is much easier to discover dinosaur bones rather than fully interpret when the first words were SPOKEN.
It is guessed that the first language developed was Sumerian located in Mesopotamia.
The emergence of words was not something that was created by a mad scientist in a lab.
Instead, it was GROUP effort from society.
Words emerged & became a highly efficient way to communicate a message.
The dial up era of body language alone ended.
Nowadays, it was a game of body language plus words.
This is one of the reasons why body language is still so important in today’s modern world.
That is because we initially used our bodies to convey messages.
Words were great & often spoken rather than written.
However, as societies began to expand even more, there was a need for documentation.
The civilization of Sumer initially didn’t write words.
Instead, they used clay tablets in order to maintain bookkeeping for their supplies.
After some time, other people in the civilization realized that these clay tablets were pretty dope.
What other message could be put on these tablets?
Past accounting alone.
That is when clay tablets became one of the popular mediums for ideas to be frozen into reality.
The only problem with clay is that it’s too stiff.
Imagine you writing your ideas on clay and sending it over to your teacher for the homework assignment!
From clay, we evolved to papyrus.
From papyrus, we evolved to parchment.
And from parchment, we evolved to paper.
As for the writing material, we went from SHARP objects which could leave marks in clay, to quills (feather and ink), to pens in the 19th century.
The evolution of communication allowed us to go from body language, to a systemized language via oral methods to a systemized language via written methods.
Language + Communication Medium + Writing Tool = A New Era
If we did not have the power to write, then we would be blind to our history.
A systematized language PLUS a medium to communicate ideas ushered in a brand new world of creativity.
There were major influential figures who did not like the idea of having thoughts frozen on a medium.
Socrates was not vibing with this at all.
He thought it was bad to have your thoughts written and you not being around to defend them.
Sorry Socrates, but you ain’t stopping shit!
The ability to write allowed distance to be a smaller issue.
Nowadays, humans were able to send messages from one town to another.
And ideas could be printed for review later.
The game changed when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 14th century.
Why was this so important?
Because it was the beginning of mass communication.
No longer were we stuck to hand copying and hand printing.
The printing press was capable of printing 1000s of pages per day.
This was the beginning of ONE-MANY forms of communication.
Books & newspapers became highly popular and allowed the message to get out there quickly and efficiently.
For the longest time, books were mainly reserved for the wealthy.
Knowledge was reserved for the royal individuals.
The invention of the printing press allowed information to be distributed at scale.
The printing press was one of the first major forms of information technology.
But it was not the last.
Information technology continued to blossom with the wired telegraph -> telephone -> wireless telegraph -> radio -> television all the way to the internet.
The internet created another revolution in terms of communication.
Nowadays, the format was no longer, ONE-MANY.
Instead, the format was MANY-MANY.
Traditional Media had the ONE-MANY format.
Which basically means that there is one central hub who creates the information and distributes it to the masses.
This is how the mainstream media operates.
Or picture old school television where the sitcoms appeared at a set time.
You just tuned in.
New Media has the MANY-MANY format.
Which means there is not necessarily one particular hub producing the information.
Instead, consumers are now able to become producers as well.
This began the generation of the PRO-SUMER.
In the age of new media, a person who is highly creative can began a Twitter account and just write away their ideas.
No gatekeeper and high ease of access.
The internet was huge for the creative writing movement.
Just like fire was big for our ancient ancestors in terms of harnessing their creativity in a new way.
As you are reading this book right now, we are collaborating in a new media sort of transaction.
I didn’t need to write this book with a publisher as the middleman.
Instead, it went straight from the creator to the consumer.
For a long time, creative writing was a way to pass time and to inform.
But now, more than ever, it is a way to build a sustainable business as well.
Normally, businesses can become complex with many players getting involved.
The internet along with different forms of new media allow for more interactivity with the writer and their audience.
The era of writing is just getting started.
Thus far, as we have gone thru this history, we have noticed a MEGA evolution.
Writing went from clay tablets to going to the internet.
When you write on the clay tablets, you have to create while the clay is wet and hope that you don’t brush across it with your elbow messing up your writing.
A terribly slow process in terms of our day-to-day life.
Highly efficient back then.
Nowadays, creating via the internet can happen at the speed of light.
Write a tweet, hit send & it is distributed to the world before you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Point is, take some time to be grateful.
We are living in an era where all creative writers can leave their mark one way or another.
There is room for everyone to win.
Without writing, there would be no history.
Writing also creates history.
You no longer are just learning the history of communication.
You are now creating it.