Final Project and Script

For my White Paper I am going to combine my script and the white paper to show the content of the video as a whole, the process of creating it and the purpose or goal for the video.

See my Final Project Video HERE

See the same Blog Post HERE

White Paper:

In the beginning of my research into the topic of the book and how it eventually evolved, it proved very easy to find sources because there are many different historians and archeologists who are covering this very topic both directly and indirectly. Most of the research that I was finding focused on specific time periods, which is helpful, but, unfortunately, the most helpful tool to me was Wikipedia. I would hate to admit it, but with the idea of compiling a video, I could not go into the greatest detail that I could have used if I was writing a long paper. But alas, with my lack of free time due to work, it was further proof that I was way in over my head with this video project. If I would have known about my topic way early and planned better around the schedule with work, I would believe that I would have more quality information that just this basic overview. Nonetheless, the information that was gathered seemed to cover all the topics that I wanted to talk about that I put in my proposal, except my lack of sources on the actual value of the book. This is one section that could potential be a very interesting topic, especially because I am extremely interested in this topic.

As far as the goal for the video, I wanted to culminate a video not only to teach myself about the topic but to also inform others with a very easily accessible medium. I feel that I covered the topic decently and chose images that I believe would be appealing to the eye enough to pay attention to the recording. As much as I would have liked to redo the recording, I found it difficult to record something without practicing it a lot of times. This, of course, being due to time constraints.

As far as other known sources that are out there, I found a lot of books or a series of books that focused on specific ages and time periods or even countries in particular. One that I found interesting was the History of the Book in America. There is a wealth of information on the internet about the book and it pains me to think that I could have done a more in-depth video perhaps if this class was in a whole semester instead of a little cramped in Jan Term.


Since the beginning of time, many different cultures of people dating all the way back to the even the Neanderthals and the cavemen had some form of writing or drawing on some form of material in which a message could be conveyed by a written form. Of course over time, the process that was used in the creation of these primitive books grew and became more advanced as the rest of society also grows more intelligent and understanding of the world around them. Some of the earliest discovery of writing can be seen in the Ancient Egyptians system of hieroglyphics in which they mix the use of logographic and alphabetic elements. These were mostly used for religious use and would be written on papyrus, a thick material similar to paper made from the papyrus plant. The earliest of these being seen from around 3300 B.C. They even had a cursive writing type called Hieratic that was used by the scribes at the time, but was also kept separate from hieroglyphics. They often times used ink, but the material used to written upon was not only papyrus. Archeologists have uncovered different wood, stone or pottery. Then there were also clay tablets found in Mesopotamia dated back to about 3000 B.C. The Mesopotamians would take clay tablets and then use a tool named a Calamus in order to write into the clay tablets. The calamus, referring to the plant that it was made from, was a hollowed reed with a bias cut on the end of it. Other than using a calamus, they often times used bird feathers. Once the clay tablets were inscribed upon, they would be fired to set and harden the clay. Probably one of the most used materials to be written upon was papyrus. After taking out the marrow of the plant and following several steps to synthesize paper from the plant and creates a number of different products, the most important being the paper-like papyrus. Writings on papyrus mostly were written in scroll form with several connected sheets pasted together. These books would extend horizontally; the text would be on one side and was divided into columns. There was no “spine” to books back then, and the title of the writing would be on the cylindrical container that was used to hold the scroll. Most of these papyrus writings were found in tombs or in use for great political power of for religious reasons. So it has reason to believe that the development of the book was created and spurred by those at the top of the social or religious hierarchy. This influence would have also led them to search for a means of preserving these documents because, like paper, papyrus will deteriorate over time and become aged and old. In East Asia, it was common to have writing on wood, silk, shells or even bone, but was not a new material for writing. Texts would be reprinted on wood with the use of woodblock printing. This is a technique used wood and would carve into the wood to provide every space that is white and all the wood that remained the same would be all the black spots. Of course this would prove difficult when adding text to this stamp-like process because it would reverse the text and even any picture or writing on it. There was even an option for color printing, but it would require several different wooden blocks with one for each color. The earliest known color woodblock printing was found from the Han Dynasty and was printed in three colors. Color printing in Europe didn’t start until 1508 when a man in Germany invented woodcut prints that utilized colored bricks. If they did not use these slabs of wood to stamp onto cloth, they would place the “wood block” facing upward and take a hard tool and rub the cloth onto the block. The process for silk only involved an extra block on top of the silk that would be folded repeatedly, but is technically not a type of printing because there is no actual pressure being placed or pressed. With this system in place it would not be long until we had the development of presses that would eventually become regularly used by 1480.

Paper was invented in China about the 1st century AD from the discovery of using the bark of the blackberry bush. In time before Columbus’ discovery of the new world, writings on hides and long strips of paper were then covered by wood. These writings were found to have existed since the third century. Later on in Rome, they would use wooden tablets that would be coated in wax that they could write and erase using a stylus, one of the earliest writing utensils similar in use to the pencil. With time, Parchment eventually replaced papyrus. It was made using the skins of animals and it was much better to preserve over time. It was a much sturdy material and one would be able to erase. Also about the same time, there became more of a culture surrounding books. Before this time, it was mostly wealthy, religious and educated people who would know how to write or even read. Because of this, the value that books held at the time was slim, because in the hands on the wrong person, it was literally useless. This would be the same as handing someone with no musical training a sheet of music and expecting them to play a song. At the time of Greeks, those that wrote their history had no right to their work. Anyone at the time could get works copied or event altered from the original text. Books also became censored early on due to religious or political significance. Once paper was invented, its purpose was not just for writing, but also for wrapping and later on toilet paper. The codex eventually replaced the scroll, and was constructed by a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus and other materials. Stacking the pages and aligning one side and then using a cover that would be thicker than the sheets bound the codex. By this time we had works of monks and scribes that would work copying books, decorating them and conserving them. This would be an early role of the librarian. The Printing press was then invented in 1440 and thus begins the birth of the actual book. Of course there are many binding techniques utilized including the use of adhesive on the spine of the pages and glued to a cover, but also binding that involves the use of string or wire and holes through the paper to tie all the pages together.

For my final project for the English 380 Digital Labor class, I want to look at the history of the book. There are four sections of this topic that I wish to focus on: Background, Materials used to create books, binding techniques, and the value of books. I propose to create a short informational video created by some video cutting medium that will include images about the topic with an overlapping recording of my voice with a script. I have not decided on software to use in order to create the project and am open to suggestions. My project will contribute to the history of digital labor because the whole process of creating the book was only digital labor until they created machines in the industrial revolution then it separates the hands-on action of book creation. This is why I want look on the other side of this into the value of books and where that is created and who gives the value to the books. My lists of tools I may use include but are not restricted to: Microphone, computer, Audacity, Garage Band, and Windows Movie Maker. I do assume that this project will have a lot more information that I had planned on researching and somewhere I am going to have to draw the line. This is going to be the hardest thing to do, because I am going to have to decide what information stays and what doesn’t.

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