The Information Society: From Gutenberg to S.W.I.F.T.

Wriston, Walter B.


Much has been written and said about the Information Society and its effect upon all of us. Like many catch phrases, the Information Society is both descriptive and deceptive. It is descriptive because it accurately captures the concept of the vast flow of data which now inundates us all. It is deceptive because to some extent all civilization has been built upon the foundation of information passed on from one person to another and from one generation to the next.

The technique employed in passing on information remained basically unchanged for more than a thousand years until Johann Gutenberg brought the marvel of movable type to the European scene in the 15th Century. The great innovation which changed the world was not at first a commercial success. The money Gutenberg borrowed was not repaid and he lost both his press and his type; doubtless the bankers of the time were castigated for making "risky" loans.

  • The document was created from the speech, "The Information Society: From Gutenberg to S.W.I.F.T.," written by Walter B. Wriston for the S.W.I.F.T. Conference SIBOS '82 on 23 September 1982. The original speech is located in MS134.001.005.00004.
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