Thematic Essay for Global Regents
JUNE 2011 SAMPLE ANSWER
Throughout history, societies have developed significant technological innovations. These technological innovations have had both positive and negative effects on society and humankind.
Task: Select two technological innovations and for each
- Discuss why the technological innovation was important during a specific time period.
- Discuss the positive and/or negative effects this technological innovation had on society or on humankind.
Throughout history, mankind has grown constantly, developing several beneficial technologies and advances in the process. The effects that these accomplishments have had on society, whether positive or negative, have nevertheless all succeeded in moving humanity forward: onto the next frontier of innovation. One of the most significant inventions was that of the printing press, whose introduction changed the fabric of society in ways yet unprecedented. Of similar consequence was the invention of the light bulb. Both advancements worked to light the way for a period of even greater human thought and achievement.
The impact of the printing press on society was colossal, as it ushered in an era of mass communication, and beckoned the widespread circulation of ideas. Prior to its invention, society, for the most part, lived in a state of unawareness, devoid of the printed word and unfamiliar with concepts that they did not have an immediate concern for. Once it was introduced, however, the printing press became an invaluable means of spreading literature, cultivating thought, and even inspiring discontent and sparks of revolution in the hearts of many. Thanks to the printing press, society was, at long last, liberated from a long, dark period of ignorance and catapulted into a period of flourishing culture and thought; the Renaissance.
The invention of the light bulb too, served as an enormous historical milestone. Undoubtedly, its significance lies in that it greatly expanded the hours of one’s day. Having a means of artificial light, people were no longer forced to govern their lives by the hours during which the Sun shone, but were able to expand their day for as long as they wished. The increased productivity that light bulbs allowed helped spur further advancements, as well as provide time for leisure and for the exercise of the mind. Unmistakably, it had a very significant, very lasting change in the lives of many.
The introduction of the printing press and the light bulb into society was as revolutionary as any war. With the invention of the printing press, the Middle Ages were effectively over, as culture was able to blossom as a result of the dissemination of ideas through the written word. The period that ensued, the Renaissance, brought with it an era of significant human achievement. The light bulb, too, served to light the way for further societal advancement, as people were no longer bounded in the hours in which they worked by the confines of day and night. These inventions have clearly had a multitude of effects, drastically altering the course of mankind. For better or for worse, these human accomplishments have launched us into ages of even greater innovation and achievement.