Guns, Germs, and Steel -- and Latin script?

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Summary:

Movable type, alphabets, the dark ages, technological progress in Europe, the Middle East, and China.
Since book printing is technology, I'm guessing that this discussion belongs here.

Last week's episode of NOVA contained a section that reminded me of Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel. (Even though it doesn't exactly fit in that title. - Type pieces were made of lead, tin, and antimony, not steel.) It seems an accident of history that movable type dramatically reduced the cost of printing - but only for texts using latin script. The technology did not work well for arabic or chinese lettering. As a result, printing in Europe went from extremely expensive to cheaper than anywhere else. (Chinese paper technology was important too, but only when combined with movable type did you get lots of affordable books for everyone.)

The NOVA episode seems to present the lack of papyrus in Rome as the start of the dark ages. Then the new ability to share and evaluate ideas brought on the enlightenment. Obviously that's a bit simple, but how much of history can we place in the hands of paper and printing technology, and the accident of Latin script?
 
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Answers and Replies

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I wouldn’t say the accident of Latin script rather the notion of basing your script on phonetics initially.

The Cherokee Indians wondered why the white man was so successful and decided it was due his use of writing and newspapers so they set out to create a phonetic script for Cherokee and within a decade became highly literate as their newspaper covered larger issues than word of mouth.

Unfortunately it made them a target of the US govt who forced them from their lands as they became more politically aware fearful that the newspaper could incite riots and more.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_Phoenix
 
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Arabic text isn't phonetic? The problem NOVA describes is that the characters don't align in straight lines, but are meant to intertwine in organic shapes and clusters, with variable direction. English is perhaps psudo-phonetic. What really matters is that there are only a few dozen characters and they always look the same.

That thing about the Cherokee is a real kick in the teeth. Man.
 
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