If the public library was the proto-internet, then the book was both a trusty storage device and an early website. This is essentially how MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences approaches books in the course “Making Books: The Renaissance and Today,” in which students learn about bookmaking technology.
The course, led by MIT historian Anne McCants and Jeffrey Ravel, sees students making paper and building a handset printing press. The idea is to illustrate that people in the distant past were also clever technologists, while also reconnecting students to the notion of making instead of merely consuming.
This semester past, MIT Hobby Shop director Ken Stone led the students in the building of the printing press. First, students milled a huge reclaimed wooden beam from an old building, then they worked the wood in various ways until they had assembled a screw-type letterpress printer commonly used throughout the early modern period. During the build, students toured a Colonial-style print shop in Boston called Edes & Gill, paying particular attention to an early handset press like the one they were building. There they picked the brains of printmaster Gary Gregory.
The full article is at The Creators Project. Very, very, very cool, this. I’d love to learn how to do this.